Skip to main content

Full text of "Fundamentals of modern police impact weapons"

See other formats

Modern Police Impact Weapons 



Modern Police Impact Weapons 



Police Officer and Weapons Instructor 
Hooksett, New Hampshire 

Weapons Assistant Professor 

Advanced Police Training Program 

New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council 

Feature Editor 
Sentinel Magazine 
Trooper Magazine 

Associate Editor 

Law and Order 

Guest Lecturer at the Smith and Wesson Academy 


Springfield • Illinois • U.S.A. 

Property of 



Or$lljfiwg, South Carolina 

Published and Distributed Throughout the World by 


Bannerstone House 

301-327 East Lawrence Avenue, Springfield, Illinois, U.S.A. 


1 his book is protected by copyright. No part of it 

may be reproduced in any manner without written 

permission from the publisher. 


ISBN 0-398-03748-5 
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 77-12578 

With THOMAS BOOKS careful attention is given to all details of 
manufacturing and design. It is the Publisher's desire to present books that are 
satisfactory as to their physical qualities and artistic possibilities and 
appropriate for their particular use. THOMAS BOOKS will be true to those 
laws of quality that assure a good name and good will. 

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data 

Ayoob, Massad F. 

Fundamentals of modern police impact weapons. 

Includes index. 

1. Police — Equipment and supplies. 2. Truncheons. 
3. Handcuffs. I. Tide. 

HV793(i.E7A!)5 3(i3.2'3'028 77-12578 

ISHN 0-398-03748-5 

Printed in the United States of America 



The history of man is a story of his weapons. Physically short- 
changed by nature, his early existence must have been a night- 
mare of hairbreadth escapes. Weak; slow; with inferior eyes, ears, 
and sense of smell; a thin, tender skin; and without fangs, talons 
or horns — his only defense was to climb, hide in caves, or ring him- 
self with fire. Lacking even the reproductive capacity of the other 
animals which served as prey, that he survived as a species is one 
of the great wonders of our world. Not only did he survive, he de- 
veloped weapons allowing him to avoid close physical contact in 
an encounter and became the most fearsome predator of them all. 

The original weapons he learned to use, both of which would be 
classified as "impact" types, were the rock and the stick. The earli- 
est written account seems to favor the rock, the weapon with which 
Cain allegedly did a number on Abel, as the earliest weapon. How- 
ever, since the report on this homicide gives very few details, I 
would like to hear both sides of the argument before conceding 
precedence. There is a good chance that Cain took a bum rap. 
Knowing brothers, I suspect that Abel drew a stick on him and 
that he threw the rock in self-defense. If that was the case, the 
murder stigma could have easily become known as the "brand of 
Abel." A rock is a one-shot weapon, and if Cain had missed, it 
would have left him disarmed to face retribution from an outraged 

The stick was the crude progenitor of all the other weapons. 
From it evolved the club, the sword, the spear, the arrow, and 
finally, the bullet, each adding to the ability to kill at greater dis- 
tance, thus minimizing danger to the user. It also was responsible 
for the development of shielding armor as a defense against the 
capabilities of such weapons. Although considered in itself a primi- 
tive weapon — brought to greatest perfection by peasants forbidden 
more lethal devices (as exemplified by the Oriental adaptation of 
various types of grain flails and the British quarter stave) — the 
stick, as well as various types of body armor has become increasing- 
ly useful in modern police arsenals. 


vi Modern Police Impact Weapons 

My own law enforcement experience was gained on duty with 
the United States Border Patrol, a duty in which there was very 
little call for use of an impact weapon other than a gun. Conse- 
quently, for years I thought of a stick as something to pick up and 
hit someone with if nothing more satisfactory was available. This 
judgment was permanently changed one night in a New Orleans 
waterfront bar where I first saw a stick used by an expert. A Mili- 
tary Police sergeant called by the management to take care of a 
soldier customer who had become overly bellicose walked up to 
the subject, placed his left hand on the offender's shoulder in a 
comradely manner, quickly thrust his baton between the legs from 
behind, turned it so that he was holding it knuckles up crossways 
in front of the legs, lifted so that the drunk's feet were barely touch- 
ing the floor, and walked him "tippy-toed" to the waiting paddy 
wagon. It was obvious to me (and to the subject) that if the ser- 
geant had turned his shoulder loose, the subject would have been 
dumped on his head. The "knuckles up" hold on the baton also 
got his attention. 

My interest aroused, I read the only books available at that time 
on the subject. These were Get Tough by W. E. Fairbairn, Kill 
or Get Killed by Rex Applegate, and Cold Steel by John Styers. 
All gave excellent accounts of how to kill somebody with a stick, 
which is fine for the military situation in effect at the time but a 
mite drastic for use on the neighborhood gentry. 

Fundamentals of Modern Impact Weapons gives exactly the same 
information, broadened and amplified, in a format more applica- 
ble for modern usage, by telling you how to use the various impact 
weapons without killing the subject of your attention. This is 
a commendable change if for no other reason than the possibility 
that, having been shown the error of his ways without making the 
lesson permanent, the erstwhile thug might decide to settle down 
and become a valuable taxpayer. 

I am not familiar with the other titles mentioned by the author 
on page 4 of this book. With the exception of the ones listed 
above and various military manuals dealing with the use of the 
baton, I was not aware of the existence of other writings of value 
on this subject during my enforcement years. This is regrettable, 
as was forcibly brought to the attention of a group of border pa- 

Foreword vii 

trolmen assigned to a southern university campus undergoing a 
state of considerable turmoil several years ago. These men were 
all skilled marksmen. Given batons and armbands temporarily pro- 
claiming them to be U. S. deputy marshals, they took quite a beat- 
ing because they did not know the technique of the stick and could 
not ethically defend themselves with the firearms with which they 
were familiar. 

Ayoob has done a superb job of describing offensive and de- 
fensive use of impact weapons. In addition to saps, night sticks, 
batons, and other conventional weapons, he has given excellent 
coverage of the "makeshift" items which can be used in an emer- 
gency. These include handcuffs, key rings, belts, flashlights, guns, 
beer mugs, and just about any other item which might likely be 
in reach, not nailed down, and of sufficient substance to give 
weight to your side of an argument. Nor has he neglected the 
legal and ethical considerations attendant to the use of "sufficient" 

Massad Ayoob is a prolific writer. He is now serving on the staff 
of a number of "gun" publications and free-lancing for the others. 
I am confident that this, his first book, will assuredly be followed 
by others. Whether you are in law enforcement work — in which 
case Fundamentals of Modern Police Impact Weapons is a must — 
or you are not, but have decided that you are going to collect 
Ayoob for your library, I can hardly think of a better place to start 
collecting than with Number One. 

Bill Jordan 



Foreword v 


I. Introduction 3 

II. The Nature of the Weapons 6 

Traditional 6 

The "Nightstick" or Baton 6 

Short Billies 11 

Saps 12 

Combination Impact Weapons 18 

The Prosecutor Baton 21 

Yawara Stick 34 

Riot Batons 37 

Sap Gloves and Palm Saps 41 

The Nunchaku 44 

Non-Traditional 59 

The Sidearm as an Impact Weapon 59 

The Flashlight as an Impact Weapon 66 

Handcuffs as Impact Weapons 73 

Makeshift Impact Weapons 77 

III. Two Classic Baton Approaches 87 

The Lamb Baton Method 87 

The "LAPD" Method 95 

IV. The Parameters of Lethal and "Less Lethal" Force . 103 
V. Practical Applications and Considerations 108 

Carrying the Impact Weapon 108 

In the Police Vehicle 108 

On the Person, in Uniform Ill 

Belt Carriers for Impact Weapons 117 

When to Draw the Impact Weapon 120 

Multiple, Unarmed Opponents 123 

The Relative Importance of Footwork 130 


x Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Chapter Page 

The "Sleeper Hold": Is It Too Dangerous for Police to Use? 132 

Home Practice With the Impact Weapon 143 

Where to Strike 149 

VI. Conclusion 156 

Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Chapter I 


For the average American police officer, the weapon he has 
the least training with is the one he is likely to be using most 
frequently: the impact weapon. The aerosol incapacitant known 
as Mace™ (a Smith & Wesson brand) requires little training 
apart from a briefing on first aid for its effects; sidearms, in all 
but the most backward departments, are qualified with at least 

The baton, nightstick, or sap is in a different class. It needs 
both training and practice to be used effectively, for maximum 
protection of the officer with minimal injury to die non-deadly 

Figure 1. Impact weapons and chemical incapacitants both have their places 
as less-lethal components of the police arsenal; sometimes the roles overlap, 
but there are many situations where one will be preferable to the other. 
Courtesy of Smith & Wesson. 


4 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

offender he uses it against. Yet, beyond rudimentary academy 
training, few police agencies "qualify" or even fully check out 
their line personnel with impact weapons. The exception is the 
officer assigned to riot control units, who even there learns more 
in the way of crowd control than personal self-defense. 

Fundamentals of Modern Police Impact Weapons was written 
to give the policeman a realistic understanding of the "less- 
lethal," non-chemical, subduing weapons available to him, and 
how they can and should be used. I have considered legal and 
moral aspects as well as purely tactical aspects of self-defense. 

Many textbooks and training manuals have been written on 
various specific stickfighting systems. Among the best are the 

Kubota, T. and McCaul, P. F.: Baton Techniques and Train- 
ing. Springfield, Thomas, 1974. 

Starrett, R. and Anderson, L.: Monadnock Prosecutor PR-24 
Manual. Monadnock Lifetime Products. 

Phillips, J.: The Nunchaku and Police Training. Williamstown, 
JM Phillips. 

Phillips, J.: Nunchaku Two. Williamstown, JM Phillips, 1975. 

I recommend them to the officer who may or must use one 
method or the other. No attempt was made to treat them all in 
depth here; no book, including this one, can make you an expert 
with any stick or club. That comes with extensive personal train- 
ing and practice and cannot really be learned from a written 

The intent of Fundamentals of Modern Police Impact Wea- 
pons was to go into areas that had never before been written 
about: practical carry and use techniques, the psychology of the 
impact weapon, the tactics to be employed during and prior to its 
use, methods of training, the strong and weak points of each po- 
lice stick-fighting system, and perhaps most important, the legal 
and moral factors, including civil liability, that are attendant to 
the clubbing of violent suspects into otherwise unattainable 

I have endeavored to give the reader an understanding (if not 
a life-saving, working street knowledge) of such esoteric weapons 

Introduction 5 

as the nunchaku, the Prosecutor, the yawara, and unconventional 
striking tools. 

Ideally, the well-prepared police officer will have more than one 
impact weapon and will use his primary stick Avith eclectic tech- 
niques that take the best from each system, adapted to his own 
abilities. Such an integrated arsenal of defensive maneuvers has 
to give the officer more versatile capability and confidence than 
blind reliance on a single form of stickfighting. 

In a national climate where unjust assaults on police are in- 
creasing both on the street and in the courtroom, the modern 
officer needs a solid and comprehensive understanding of the less- 
lethal force he commands with his nightstick, every bit as much 
as he needs to understand the parameters of lethal force that 
ominously shroud his service handgun. 

Fundamentals of Modern Police Impact Weapons is an at- 
tempt to broaden the level of that understanding, to help the law 
officer in the street in making the split-second decisions of life or 
death magnitude that are sometimes the curse, but always the 
trademark, of his profession. 

Chapter II 



The "Nightstick" or Baton 
Plastic Versus Wooden Batons 

Plastic batons are now slightly more popular than the tradi- 
tional wooden nightsticks. Both materials have their own clear 
advantages and disadvantages. 

Weight depends on density, but a typical plastic baton will 
weigh in the vicinity of 22 ounces, a hickory baton closer to 
12 ounces, if both are 24 inches in length. The heavier plastic 
stick will hit harder. This has been disputed by some baton in- 
structors, who feel that the lighter wooden stick will swing faster 
and therefore strike at least as potently. However, the difference 
in velocity is minimal in the hands of a man of average strength, 
while the difference in weight is significant. It is rather like com- 
paring a 158-grain .38 slug at 950 feet per second velocity to a 
230-grain .45 bullet at 850 fps: The greater mass and weight of 
the big bullet more than make up for its slightly lesser velocity. 

There are, however, circumstances in which the lighter baton 
may be used more effectively than the heavier plastic. If the offi- 
cer finds the plastic stick so heavy that it encumbers his ability to 
make a decisively rapid strike and recovery, his weapon will be 
very easily blocked, and he will be in danger. If he can use the 
lighter baton with more effective speed, that should be his choice. 
However, only physically small policemen, policewomen, and 
older officers generally find the plastic baton that slow to strike 

The officer should use the heaviest stick that he can handle ef- 
fectively. The average officer will not find that the weight of the 
plastic baton slows him down appreciably in his first strike. He 
may find, however, that he can attain a tangible increase in recov- 
ery time for multiple strikes with the wooden baton. It is largely 
a matter of physical build and condition; the officer should ex- 


Nature of the Weapons 7 

periment with both types, under educated supervision, to deter- 
mine which is best for him. Ideally, the type of baton he carries 
should, within limits, be his own choice, since his effectiveness 
with the instrument does depend so much on his own physique 
and reflexes. While departmental regulations may reasonably 
extend to length and general configuration, the choice of wood 
or plastic should be optional for the individual policeman. 

Plastic has certain disadvantages. One is that, when exposed to 
extreme cold for long periods, it may break when struck against 
a hard object. However, most such instances have not occurred in 
actual fights but in squadrooms where an officer walked in from 
a long winter foot tour and playfully whacked his stick against 
a countertop. The nature of the plastic composition also affects 
the vulnerability to cold: A cheap baton is much more likely to 
break under these conditions than the virgin Monpac® plastic, 
for example, used in Monadnock® nightsticks. I have heard re- 
liable reports of Monadnock sticks breaking under these condi- 
tions, but I have also seen that company's batons immersed in 
freezers for extended periods, and then struck repeatedly against 
hard objects: During these tests, the Monadnock batons did not 
break or crack. 

Plastic is definitely sensitive to extreme heat or sunlight. A 
plastic stick left for eight hours on a dashboard on a bright day 
may easily warp from the sun's rays concentrated through the 
windshield. The common practice of securing the baton under 
the front-seat headrest can jeopardize a plastic baton during hot 
weather, especially when the car is left parked for extended 
periods, creating great heat in the passenger compartment. The 
pressure of the headrest, which is normally jammed down firmly 
on the stick, can make the nightstick resemble a rocker. This 
usually requires an extended period of time, while direct sun- 
light, as on the dashboard, can warp the stick in a matter of 

Plastic batons are best kept in specially designed clamps, such 
as the Monadnock, on the car doors. An alternative is to slip it 
between the driver's door and seat, but this allows a person in the 
back seat to grab the weapon. 

When a plastic stick breaks, it will usually go completely, with 

8 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

a sound like a pistol shot and a jarring shock up the arm. A 
wooden (hickory) baton more often cracks vertically; like a base- 
ball bat, it may be turned in the hand, with the crack toward the 
palm, and used for at least one more strike before the weapon 
snaps entirely. 

Still, there is no denying that the wooden baton is much more 
likely to fail than the plastic. Many departments have gone to the 
plastic models after a number of broken wooden sticks, both in 
riots and one-to-one street confrontations. It is significant that 
the Monadnock company advertised, shortly after the introduc- 
tion of their Prosecutor®, that officers should practice by striking 
it against trees. A few have broken with such treatment, but 
only a few. By contrast, no wooden baton should be so abused: 
The plastic survives this pounding because Monpac is some two 
and a half times as heavy and dense as hardwood. However, 
when a small piece of wood (baton) is pounded against a large 
piece of wood (tree), the inevitable will soon occur. It should be 
noted here that practice against trees and telephone poles is not 
recommended with plastic batons of conventional shape, either; 
the Prosecutor survives it, as do heavy plastic nunchaku, because 
of the bounce-back effect. 

Carrying weight may be significant for foot patrol officers. Cer- 
tainly an LAPD-style baton will carry more comfortably than a 
heavy plastic equivalent. This is not, however, a consideration 
for patrol car personnel. 

The ultimate question, really, is whether the extra impact of 
a plastic baton is really needed. The answer seems to be yes; in 
many cases, the wooden baton simply will not hit hard enough to 
stop a drug-crazed or adrenalin filled attacker who is immune to 
pain. The plastic baton is somewhat more likely to break bone, 

Cast aluminum batons, sold by Safariland and others, are seen 
occasionally on the street. I do not believe that even fairly light, 
hollow metal batons should be used. Public reaction alone would 
be reason enough for police administrators to ban them. The in- 
dividual officer should be aware that this same connotation of 

Nature of the Weapons 9 

police brutality will carry over into a courtroom if the officer is 
ever, rightly or wrongly, charged with using excessive force. 

Telescoping metal batons, usually made abroad, have been seen 
in this country occasionally. While they seem to offer many ad- 
vantages on the surface — good reach coupled with great compact- 
ness on the belt — they appear to be too light and whippy for ef- 
fective blocking and grappling. 

Aluminum flashlights, discussed elsewhere in this text, are even 
more dangerous, since the batteries give added weight and create 
a deadly crushing effect in a full-power blow. 

A frequent question by officers who choose wooden batons is 
whether they should be finished in black or left in the natural 
wood color. Natural finish will show less wear, while the black 
will quickly become scarred just by carrying and insertion in the 
belt ring. This is a bad reflection on the officer's appearance, and 
can lead to questions from street people like, "Who's he been 
beating on with that?" It is easy to retouch the scars on a black 
stick, though, and that color actually makes for a lower profile 
because it blends in with the dark blue shades that make up most 
police uniforms. Light brown wood contrasts so that it makes the 
stick stand out and seem bigger, as if the officer was carrying a 
baseball bat. 

Should Impact Weapons Be Thonged? 

Many conventional batons and billy clubs come equipped with 
a rawhide or plastic thong. The purpose is to prevent the club 
from being torn from the officer's hand in a scuffle; at the same 
time, most officers are trained to loop the thong over their thumb 
instead of their wrist on the theory that they can let go of the 
baton before a suspect who has grabbed the stick can twist it and 
break the officer's wrist. That logic seems paradoxical. 

The loose thong tends to hang up on things. It dangles in an 
unsightly manner from a belt baton ring, and more than one 
officer has been spun around by his own momentum when he 
passed too close to a doorknob and snagged his nightstick thong. 
Short billies, usually carried in the sap pocket of the uniform 
slacks, tend to have their thongs dangling out, and many an offi- 

Property of 



Oto£g?burg, South Carolina 



Modern Police Impact Weapons 

cer has gone into a fight scene only to find that he left his billy 
hanging by its rawhide on the inside handle of the car door. 

There are techniques by which the officer can tie his baton to 
his hand in a manner that allows quick release if necessary, yet 
holds the stick in place even when he opens his hand. It does al- 
low the officer to grapple with a suspect without having to drop 
his baton. But suppose the suspect grabs the baton while the offi- 
cer's hand is open and reaching for a fistful of shirt? The 
suspect can easily gain superior leverage, and the officer will have 
to flick his hand and turn loose of his weapon: he has thereby 
created a situation in which he has armed his opponent and may 
now be forced to shoot him. 

Figure 2. I find that the addition of a heavy rubber band vastly increases 
the practicality of yawara stick for police work. Looped around the back of 
the hand, it lets the officer open his fingers for grappling without fear of 
dropping the weapon. Monadnock's "knobby persuader" model is shown. 

Nature of the Weapons 1 1 

A better solution is to train the officer so that, when he feels he 
has to grab onto a suspect, he should take the extra second to put 
his stick away. A short billy can often be pocketed in a split sec- 
ond; a full-length baton can be thrust just as quickly into the 
baton ring if the officer wears the kind of ring produced by 
Monadnock, which friction-locks in an outward position on the 
belt and allows a quick, instinctive, one-handed return of the 

On a police impact weapon, a rawhide thong is generally more 
hassle than help. An exception would be a homemade palm- 
thong for a yawara stick; this would give the officer full striking 
ability coupled with moderately good ability to grapple with his 
open hand without losing his weapon; the thong wouldn't be 
long or loose enough to allow snagging, and there isn't enough 
stick for an opponent to grab hold of. 

I personally feel that a rubber grommet, or built-in retainer 
ring as with Monadnock's optional models, is lo be preferred 
over the thong. 

Short Billies 

Many officers in this country are issued, or carry because of 
tradition, the impact weapon known as the "short billy," a foot- 
long piece of lathe-turned hardwood or plastic. It is a tradition 
that may have overstayed its usefulness in terms of practicality. 

The billy club is just that: a club best suited for overhand 
swings upon people's heads. This is a technique that has long 
been obsolete as far as thinking policemen are concerned. 

The billy can be used as a yawara stick, though it's awkward in 
that application; it can also be used to jab, but because of its de- 
sign, such a strike is likely to injure the officer's wrist and leave 
him in an extremely tenuous position if the blow has failed to 
take effect. Its range is also extremely short. 

The Lamb method was designed at a time when Arthur Lamb 
was training men equipped with 12 inch billies. Happily, it trans- 
lates into extreme effectiveness with a proper 24 inch stick. The 
Lamb system remains the best for the officer limited to the billy 
club by department regulations, but anything that can be done 
with the billy can be done as, or more, effectively with saps and 

12 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

blackjacks, weapons that are themselves considered both brutal 
and obsolete by most enlightened police weapons instructors. 

The sap and jack, at least, have the advantage of being so com- 
fortable and easy to carry that they'll always be within the offi- 
cer's reach, on his person. This isn't necessarily true of the short 
billy club, which is round, stiff, and uncomfortable to wear, and 
therefore obsolete in every respect. Moreover, the billy doesn't 
have the smashing impact of the weighted saps and jacks and is 
therefore less effective even in the close-range situations where 
short impact weapons can be used best. 

Like many police traditions, the billy club has nothing to rec- 
ommend it but the impetus of years of service. It is in the same 
category as the belt-pouch carrier for spare ammunition: the least 
effective method of performing the task it is carried for, yet re- 
tained by many departments because it looks trim and nice, even 
though it can't perform as well as any of the more modern 

The short billy's only recommendation is that when it is abused 
by a poorly trained officer, that is, when it is used to strike some- 
one over the head, it is somewhat less likely than the sap or jack 
to cause severe damage. The billy club, of all police impact 
weapons, is the one that is most deserving of total retirement into 
the history of law enforcement, along with belt lamps and the 
open-topped police touring car. 

Like those other relics, the truncheon, or police billy club, is a 
product made obsolete by modern technology and by the param- 
eters and practicality of contemporary law enforcement. This 
holds equally true for the heavy, flexible "rubber" truncheons of 
the "New York Police" style, which were never carried seriously by 
any NYCPD patrolman after his first heavy fight. The fact is 
that the rubber truncheons were less damaging when used im- 
properly, in that an officer hitting a suspect over the head was 
more likely to cold-cock him and less likely to brain him, but the 
concept of a weapon that can be used only this way is repugnant 
to the modern law enforcement officer. 


Many officers favor the flat sap over the springier, rounder 
blackjack. Comfort in carrying is usually the reason, but some 

Nature of the Weapons 



Figure 3. Flat saps, or slappers, come in varying lengths and weights. As with 
most impact weapons of conventional design, increased effectiveness usually 
means decreased carrying comfort. Courtesy of Smith 8c Wesson. 

14 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

bona fide authorities, like Lamb, prefer the sap because it remains 
rigid when striking edge-on and translates impact more effec- 

However, the lack of springiness, coupled with the rigidity of 
an often solid lead striking piece and the chunky weight, can 
make broken bones, especially cracked skulls, more likely to re- 
sult. The sap is especially effective for body blows during infight- 
ing (strike with the flat side). 

My feeling is that the blackjack, by virtue of its springy 
bounceback, is less likely to break bone and is somewhat more 
versatile in a grappling situation when the officer's hand and arm 
movements may be impaired. The sap, on the other hand, is 
somewhat more effective in jabbing techniques because of its 
rigidity and will likewise hit harder when swung edge-outward. 

The officer who does choose the flat sap would be well advised 
to buy one with powdered lead, rather than a solid lead piece 
with leather sewn around it. Flexibility is much greater in the 
powdered lead models, thus reducing somewhat the danger of 
breaking bone without sacrificing impact shock; the heavy leather 
keeps the weapon quite rigid enough for jabbing techniques. 

With either sap or jack the Lamb method is probably the best 
approach. One change is made: Due to the shortness of the 
weapon and consequent lack of range, the sliding step backward 
with the weak leg is replaced by a sliding step jorward with the 
strong leg to close within striking distance of the opponent with- 
out sacrificing balance. 

In addition to its convenience and concealability, the sap or 
jack has one other advantage: It is handy for close-quarters use, 
as when struggling with a violent suspect in the confines of a 
patrol car. Again, however, care should be taken to avoid over- 
hand strikes to the head; short, snapping blows to wrists, shins, 
and ankles are the most effective application. 


Six to 9 inches in length, and weighing 8 to 16 ounces, the 
blackjack consists of a flexible main body covered with braided 
leather, a small lead- or shot-filled cylindrical butt, and a larger 
striking head that is also "loaded." 

Nature of the Weapons 15 

The flexibility gives it a snapping action that has two effects: 
It increases momentum at the moment of impact, and it bounces 
back from the body after the blow, somewhat reducing the likeli- 
hood of "penetrating" impact and resultant broken bones. How- 
ever, the weight of the striking head alone makes bone fractures 
likely when head or other areas with little or no muscle padding 
are struck. 

Disadvantages are many. The instrument is too short and flex- 
ible for any grappling, and its short length necessitates that the 
officer move within punching and kicking range of his opponent. 
Jabs are impractical due to the flexibility of the shaft. There- 
fore, only swinging strikes will be effective. Due to the springi- 
ness of the instrument, it will hit harder in a blow delivered 
through a short arc than will its sister weapon, the sap. 

Sap Versus Jack 

The flat sap ("slapper, slapjack") versus the rounded, spring- 
loaded blackjack presents an interesting question. Purists say nei- 
ther should be used, but they are popular among police and will 
remain so for three reasons: They're extremely compact, they hit 
hard, and they require no training for their crude use. 

The flat sap is a piece of heavy steel or lead in the shape of a 
large exclamation point, wrapped in two pieces of leather sewn 
together on the edges. The jack is a solid piece of cylindrical lead 
at the end of a spring, around which has been braided strings of 
leather. These are available with both flat and coil springs; the 
latter are most useful and versatile, since they hit harder and 
from more angles and rebound more quickly, lessening the likeli- 
hood of "penetrating," bone-breaking impact. 

Lamb suggests that the flat sap is preferable, since one may use 
its edge to strike with, focusing impact. However, the edge-on 
blow loses the whipping effect of the heavy sap, and the total 
impact is not necessarily enhanced. 

The flat sap is the most comfortable to wear for an obvious 
reason: One carries weapons of this type in hip pockets or "sap 
pockets" sewn into the uniform trousers behind the thigh. In 
other words, you sit on them, and a flat object is more comforta- 
ble to sit on than a round one. 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 4. Far left, "Texas slapper," the biggest sap and, in ray opinion, more 
than a police officer needs. Smaller saps like the one next to it give adequate 
shock effect and sacrifice little in range; flat design makes for easy pocket 
carry. If officer insists on carrying such a weapon, I prefer coil spring-loaded 
jack (third from left) ; it hits harder, breaks fewer bones, and lets the officer 
strike if his wrists have been grabbed just by flicking his hand. Third from 
right, blackjack has flat spring, limiting the direction of hits and bounceback 
effect: a poor choice. Second from right, smallest blackjack is this plainclothes 
model in two-tone finish; with coil spring and with loop wrapped around 
little finger, the officer can grab just the base and deliver a stunning blow 
without as much danger of breaking bone. At far right is a 12 inch billy 
club; while more humane than the other weapons in this figure and more 
versatile since it can be used for jabbing (though at the risk of dislocating 
the officer's wrist) , it is still considered obsolete. Saps and jacks in figure are 
all by Bucheimer. 

Nature of the Weapons 17 

Nevertheless, the jack has two distinct advantages over the flat 
sap, so long as it is of the coil-spring type. First is the rebound 
effect, which reduces likelihood of serious injury yet magnifies 
the sensation of stunning impact to the individual the officer 
must subdue. Second, that whip effect allows the officer with a 
spring-loaded jack to extricate himself from a situation where 
a physically more powerful individual has the officer by the wrist. 
Though his arm may be immobile, the officer can still flick his 
fingers and thumb forward, and if he's holding a spring-loaded 
jack, this will be enough to send the weighted head crashing 
down on the offender's wrist. One, two, or three of these blows 
will loosen the strongest man's grasp sufficiently for the officer to 
break free and swing his jack more tellingly. 

I believe, for reasons stated elsewhere, that sap and jack are 
far from the ideal impact weapons. Nevertheless, they have a place 
as backup tools for the officer, since they are small enough for 
him to carry constantly; a Prosecutor, Lamb, or Kubota style 
baton, even if the officer is intensively trained in its use, will 
do him no good if he's besieged in an alley and his impact weap- 
on is still in his squad car. 

Size is not the criteria in a good blackjack; flexibility is. A 
light one with a good whip effect is more potent than one that 
weighs over a pound but has a flat spring that restricts its mo- 
mentum. A small jack like the Bucheimer #8980 (6i/£ inches, 
6 ounces) can be used with as much effectiveness as any other 
short impact weapon in its class; one simply holds the short end 
(see Figs. 2 and 3) with the thumb and first two fingers, the 
thong behind looped over the thumb and around the palm to 
prevent the blackjack from being torn away in a struggle. 

Either can be jabbed in the manner of a short billy. Since they 
bend on impact, the officer is less likely to injure his wrist with a 
jab delivered via sap or jack than one with a short billy; it is de- 
batable whether the impact to the opponent is lessened, however. 
True, there is a springy "give," but the added weight of the 
loaded blackjack or slapper makes up for it. The jack is best used 
for jabbing in a Yawara position, with the hand grasping the 
plaited leather body over the coil spring, leaving the smaller 
weighted butt protruding from the heel of the fist and the larger 

1 8 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

head of the jack extending from the top of the fist. "Hammer 
fist" blows delivered with a jack held in this manner can be dan- 
gerous, however, since the steel ring in the bottom that holds the 
leather retaining loop can cause severe lacerations, and even frac- 
ture bone. 

Combination Impact Weapons 

The equipment-laden patrol officer understandably wants to re- 
duce his burden of weight and bulk, and given the opportunity 
to make one tool do the work of two, it is natural for him to 
consider it seriously. 

There are several instruments on the police equipment market 
that comprise impact weapons that perforin one or two extra 
functions. One is the heavy-duty police flashlight. Rather than 
an impact weapon that serves as an emergency source of illumi- 
nation, as we will explain, it should be considered as an excellent 
flashlight that may, when faced with extreme danger, serve as a 
blocking and jabbing instrument (and, at the officer's risk in 
terms of civil liability, as a club). One unique variation of this 
concept is the VSI Mini-Light®, a cast-aluminum yawara stick 
that doubles as a "pencil flashlight." 

Tear gas batons are among the most common "double-duty" 
impact weapons. They are available from several firms. In all 
cases, they are sticks with Mace-type canisters, of pocket size, em- 
bedded in the butt end. The officer simply holds the baton ver- 
tically, butt end up and hits the button. This maneuver is es- 
pecially useful in conjunction with Kubota-style baton handling. 

Monadnock makes what they call a "Detective Model Tear Gas 
Billy," actually a yawara stick that conceals a pocket-size cannister 
of Curb®, in either CN or CS formula. Some liquor commission 
enforcement people have adopted this as standard after their 
pocket-size Mace and Curb sprays failed on drunks; they consid- 
ered the unit a can of Mace that they could hit an attacker with 
if the spray didn't work. The unit might more properly be con- 
sidered a yawara stick with a little something extra. 

All comments regarding the yawara stick apply to this instru- 
ment. It is a barfight weapon extraordinaire, but more important, 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 5. This teargas baton is an excellent combination weapon. Officer has 
drawn Koga-style with the weak hand from an Ayoob-style belt ring, hand 
slightly farther forward on the stick than it would normally be. Weapon, a 
20 inch Monadnock, is held in a reinforced block position; the index finger 
of the control hand is about to spray Curb CS aerosol into the attacker's 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 6. Monadnock tear-gas yawara about to be used as spray instead of 
impact weapon. An excellent example of a "combination" impact weapon. 
Courtesy of Monadnock. 

it is the most rational form of carrying incapacitating aerosols. 
It is actually more compact than a uniform-size sixty-shot can- 
nister of Mace, Curb, or Federal Streamer®, yet it packs just as 
much punch per spray (more, with the CS formula Curb). The 
only difference between a pocket cannister and a belt cannister 
of incapacitant aerosol is the number of charges available, and 
any thinking officer will change cannisters as necessary to keep a 
fresh, full unit on hand anyway. In my opinion, the Monadnock 
Detective Model Tear Gas Billy, with Curb 20 cannister (prefer- 
ably in CS), is the optimum delivery system for Mace-type 

A baton can also be handy as a tear-gas system, and as we have 
said, is particularly fast to bring into action when the officer 
draws Kubota- or Koga-style. The common fear that the spray 
will "accidentally" go off in the policeman's face is virtually 
groundless. The recessed trigger button is almost impossible to hit 

Nature of the Weapons 


accidentally. The rare exception would be a suspect who acci- 
dentally got his finger on it while grappling with the officer. 

A butt-strike with such a weapon would be very likely to cause 
severe lacerations due to its irregular and sharp-edged surface. 

All things considered, though, a tear-gas baton makes more 
sense than a conventional baton and a conventional Mace cannis- 
ter carried together. If the one fails, the other is in hand, instant- 
ly available, and one piece of equipment replaces two on the 
uniform belt. 

The Prosecutor Baton 

Introduced in 1972, Monadnock's PR-24 Prosecutor, "the baton 
with the handle," has become widely accepted as the most versa- 
tile and effective police impact weapon available. 

Figure 7a. Monadnock Prosecutor Baton, designated "PR-24." 

Figure 7b. Original Okinawan tonfa sticks. These rare specimens have halt- 
blades of razor sharp steel. 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 8. Versatile Prosecutor allows the officer to fend off a heavy chair from 
several angles with the use of only one hand, as the author demonstrates in 
this dramatic multiple exposure. He is striking out to meet and deflect the 
attack rather than rigidly blocking. Photograph by Richard Morin. 

It is a 24 inch plastic stick, fitted with a yawara-shaped handle 
5 incites long and 5i/, inches down the main body of the stick. 
This handle is the pivot of a series of spinning strikes, and in 
grappling, becomes a fulcrum over which the suspect's arm is 
easily twisted. 

The design is a modernization of the tonfa stick of Okinawan 
karate. Tonfas were semiround, only 18 inches long, and were 
used one in each hand. The blocks and strikes of the tonfa are 
continued into the Prosecutor, but since it is a longer, two-handed 

Nature of the Weapons 23 

weapon, the PR-24 opens a whole new field of effective grappling 
maneuvers as well. 


The PR-24 is properly held by the short handle, the body of 
the stick beneath the wrist, with the short end ahead of the fist 

Figure 9. A Prosecutor block will work from almost any position. 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

and the long end toward the elbow. The heel of the hand should 
be tight down on the body of the stick (see Fig. 6). 

Thus held, the stick becomes a sheer blocking surface that will 
absorb even blows from baseball bats harmlessly and painlessly 
(see Fig. 7). Variations use the weak hand to reinforce, or to 
grasp the long end creating a "bar" type block. The block should 
always be reinforced when the officer is protecting his head area, 
since a heavy blow, while it won't hurt the arm, can drive the 
Prosecutor handle sharply into face or head. 

Blocking is instinctive, since when someone swings on you, 
your natural reaction is to raise your strong hand protectively. 
The PR-24, in effect, gives you an arm that is impervious to 
blows, and with a surface so hard that your opponent's knuckles 
or shinbone can break on contact with the defensive barrier. 

Figure 10. Concord, New Hampshire, police officers, issued the Prosecutor as 
standard equipment, demonstrate some of its uses. It can block potent 
bludgeon strikes painlessly. 

Nature of the Weapons 



The most effective close-in technique with the PR-24 is the 
short jab. This is simply a punch in which the fist is "spearhead- 
ed" by the short end of the stick body, while the handle is held 
rigidly in the ready position described above. The result is an ex- 

Figure 11. Prosecutor short jab variation: The author "folds" a six-foot, nine- 
teen-year-old opponent during a demonstration. Focused blow just above the 
navel causes pain and disorientation with little chance of permanent injury. 
Though long part of the stick is usually held between chest and bicep for 
this technique, a straight punch as shown works very well. Note that suspect 
drops arms at impact of belly hit — arms will usually curl in toward abdomen 
after solid hit — making it unnecessary for the officer to have to strike again. 

26 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

tremely potent, sharply focused impact that "penetrates" the 
toughest abdominal muscles and can easily break bone. For this 
reason, the officer should make a point of never "Prosecutor 
punching" an offender in throat, face, or breastbone. The navel 
area is an ideal target. 

This blow may be delivered like a simple punch, but many in- 
structors prefer to hold the long end between chest and bicep 
and "pop" the target in front of them. 

Long jabs may also be used, in a two-handed mode. The palm 
of the weak hand is over the long end, which is extended for- 
ward, and the strong hand jabs as if with a pool cue. This allows 
the officer to lean backward, well out of reach of his opponent's 
fists, in a stance that looks so totally defensive he will appear, to 
a newsman's camera, to be retreating from the suspect's assault. 

Yawara Jnbs 

The resemblance of the PR-24's handle to a yawara stick is not 
coincidental. A snap of the wrist can deliver a devastating impact 
with the end of the fisted handle. Especially useful in crowded 
areas, since most observers won't be able to see what's going on, 
this blow can be delivered inconspicuously from the discreet 
ready position. 


It goes without saying that the PR-24 is very efficient when 
used for a shuto ("karate chop") type of blow. Again, this 
should never be delivered to the neck or head area. "Power chop" 
techniques may also be used, in which the long end, still to the 
rear, is grasped with the weak hand for better leverage. 

Spin Strikes 

These are the heart of the tonfa/Prosecutor concept. The 
handle in the fist becomes the pivot on which the long end is 
swung out against the target. The spinning action gives the wea- 
pon great momentum, more than a rigid stick would have; at the 
same time, since it is not held rigidly, it will bounce back after 
maximum hurt lias been delivered, but probably before any bone 

Nature of the Weapons 27 

breaks. Contact will usually bounce it back into the ready 

There are four methods of spin-striking: forward across the 
body; backward across the body; vertical; and in a circle in front 
of the officer. 

Forward across the body is the basic spin-strike. To execute, 
the officer holds the weapon in the ready position on his strong 
hand side. The hand whips forward, as if to deliver a right hook 
to the opponent's midriff. Grip on the handle is just a trifle 
loose; the long end swings by itself in an arc that extends a foot 
and a half ahead of the officer's fist. 

The most common mistake made with the Prosecutor is failure 
to follow through on spin strikes. The officer should swing hard, 
"aiming through rather than at" his target; if he has done it cor- 
rectly in practice, his strong hand will end up touching his weak 
side just below the rib cage, and the long end of the stick will 
wrap itself gently around the kidney area. If he has struck a tar- 
get, the weapon is likely to bounce back into the ready position, 
with the long end toward the elbow of the striking arm. 

Backward across the body is used as a follow-up to the above 
strike; it may also be used when drawing the weapon while under 
assault, to keep the attacker at bay. The officer, who will 
usually be carrying his baton on his weak side, should practice 
this spin-strike three ways: from the baton ring, from the ready 
position with his strong hand starting on the weak side (to simu- 
late a follow-up strike after connecting with a forward spin); 
and with the strong hand from the weak side, with the long end 
out behind the officer's back (to simulate a follow-up after miss- 
ing a forward spin). 

The vertical spin is used in close-quarters. The officer begins 
with the hand down at his right side, the handle exactly parallel 
with the floor, the top of the handle pointing straight toward his 
own side. An upward snap of the forearm, coupled with a flick 
of the wrist, spins the long end up into the opponent's groin, 
solar plexus, or chin. The officer can attain greater range by ex- 
tending the forearm as he spins upward. This is a useful tech- 
nique in hallways or crowd control situations. 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

The circular spin is a good blocking technique against a 
boxer's jabs but may not always deflect a strong man's round- 
house punch. With the forearm across and in front of his chest, 
the officer spins his PR-24 like the blades of a windmill. 

Rear Jab 

The long end may be thrust backward with great effectiveness 
from the ready position, if the officer is assaulted from behind. 
The long end is guided between the chest and bicep, and the 
handle is turned so that the top of it is pointed across the officer's 
chest toward his weak side. Thus, instead of going straight back 
and perhaps skidding off the attacker's rib cage, the long end is 
directed into his diaphragm. 

Grappling and Come-along Holds 

The Prosecutor baton is without doubt more effective for 
grappling than any other police impact weapon. It is only ap- 

Figure 12. Prosecutor armlock permits the officer to hold a suspect subdued 
with one hand, while the other is free for cuffing. 

Nature of the Weapons 29 

proached by the nunchaku; even the Koga baton in the hands of 
a master is still a poor third in this respect. The handle is the 
secret: It gives the officer enormous leverage without requiring 
him to relax his strong-hand grip. 

The simplest grappling techniques with the PR-24 are also the 
most effective. However, some, like the basic wristlock, are quite 
difficult to apply with factory instructions. 

The wristlock is accomplished by scissoring the suspect's right 
hand (if the officer is right-handed) between the handle (over 
the top of the wrist), the lower edge of the officer's wrist and 
forearm (over the outside edge of the suspect's wrist), and the 
long end of the stick (under the weak side of the suspect's 
wrist). By merely stepping back and pressing downward, the offi- 
cer can exert enough excruciating pain to bring even a big man 
to his knees. 

The problem, of course, is getting his hand there. The compa- 
ny recommends that you take the long end of the stick in your 
weak hand and swing it like a shepherd's crook to catch the at- 
tacker's wrist. In real life, that's easy for him to evade. 

You will probably have better luck if you begin your approach 
with a backward across-the-body spin strike to the region of his 
right elbow. This will numb his arm sufficiently that he'll have 
trouble evading your armlock attempt. It will also frequently 
cause him to snap his arm forward in a pain reflex that will make 
the limb easier to grab. 

Once taking the wristlock, move immediately to your left, out 
of reach of his free hand, and bear down, to make it almost im- 
possible for him to kick. Do not attempt this with a man who 
outweighs you by more than fifty pounds; that individual needs 
to be softened up first with spinstrikes to knees and elbows. 

The next step, once you have him kneeling helplessly in the 
wristlock, is to pivot the hold into an armlock. To do so, the 
officer simply swings the long end up toward the suspect's right 
rear shoulder blade. This bends the elbow and puts the suspect 
into a "reinforced hammerlock." 

There is one dangerous moment in this maneuver: during the 
first third of the arc as the long end swings up, the suspect's arm 
is momentarily free, and he can escape the hold at this point. 

30 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Therefore, it should be executed (a) quickly and (b) only after 
the officer has taken several seconds to apply the wristlock with 
much vigor, numbing the suspect's arm still further. 

Once the hammerlock position is achieved, the officer can lock 
the long end under his elbow and control the suspect one-handed. 
The weak hand is now free for handcuffing. Cuff the free hand 
first, and if the suspect refuses to bring his hand around volun- 
tarily, increase pressure on his trapped arm until he complies. 
Your leverage in this position allows you to put him on his knees 
or his face with a slight turn of your controlling arm. 

Another simple Prosecutor technique has to be the most effec- 
tive way ever of removing a recalcitrant suspect from an auto- 
mobile. In the past, police instructors have taught their students 
to grab such a man around the neck, pull him out by the hair, or 
hook fingers into his mouth or nostrils. Such techniques appear 
to be the height of police brutality in the eyes of horrified wit- 
nesses, and they can mark up the suspect severely. Moreover, these 
techniques leave the officer wide open to belly punches, groin 
grabs, and other highly disabling injuries. 

The Prosecutor technique eliminates all that. The officer ap- 
proaches, opens the car door (once he has ascertained that the 
suspect does not have a gun), and places his right foot on the 
doorsill. He holds the PR-24 in the ready position, along his leg. 
From this stance, he can injure the suspect's ankle easily with a 
snap-kick if the suspect tries to kick him; his upraised thigh pro- 
tects his groin; and the stick is in a position to defend against 
virtually any hand blow. 

Suppose the suspect insists on remaining in the car and locks 
his hands on the steering wheel. Since he is offering no attack, you 
cannot very well strike him to overcome his "passive resistance." 
All you want to do is move his body out of the car. 

From your foot-on-doorsill position, you are ideally placed to 
slip the long end of the PR-24 under his left armpit. Reach over 
his shoulder with your left hand, and grasp the long end. 

Using both hands, you now turn the stick as if you were spin- 
ning a steering wheel for a left turn. The suspect is jerked for- 
ward and to his left, out of the car, as his arm is twisted into a 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 13. Standard ready position with the PR-24; any strike or block can be 
delivered or initiated from here, yet the officer's appearance is low key and 
gives no hint of how he may approach a violent offender. Gloves do not 
hinder the use of PR-24 if the officer has practiced with them on. Photograph 
by R. Morin. 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

hammerlock position. Roll him out onto the pavement, taking 
care not to strike his head on car or road; the option is yours now 
to hold him on his knees or spread him out face-down for hand- 

There is virtually no possibility of injury to the suspect, and 

Figure 14. Prosecutor baton is best carried in special ring with stud to keep 
handle from moving as the officer walks. Available from manufacturer in 
several variations. 

Nature of the Weapons 33 

to observers from most angles, it will appear that he has jumped 
out of the car and knelt in front of you! 

There are other grappling techniques, but these are the easiest 
to master, and the most effective. Use of the Prosecutor for 
choke-outs is easy but should be avoided, since the suspect can 
easily twist in this position, causing you to break his neck or 
crush his larynx. 

Monadnock offers an in-depth training manual on the PR-24. 
Video tapes for departmental training are also available. 

Disadvantages include bulk (most American police don't rou- 
tinely carry 24 inch batons), and the fact that the handle can 
protrude from the belt ring annoyingly. The Prosecutor should 
be carried in Monadnock's special ring which has a stud to keep 
the handle from swinging about. Also, the handle may work 
loose from practice; the company furnishes a piece of steel stock 
that can be inserted into the nut that holds the handle in place. 
Placing another Prosecutor on the other end of the piece, one 
simply turns each baton until the screws are locked tight. 

It is generally unwise to hold this instrument in other than the 
ready position, since the handle gives so much leverage that who- 
ever is holding it pretty much has control of the weapon. 

A lawman can hang onto the Prosecutor one-handed while an 
attacker struggles to take it away with two, and so long as the 
officer keeps the handle pointed toward himself, it will be virtual- 
ly impossible for anyone to take it away. The only disarming 
technique that is effective is for the attacker to grab both ends in 
either hand, turn, and slam his shoulder into the officer's armpit 
as he straightens both his own arms. 

The Prosecutor may be used as a sword, with the handle form- 
ing a protective hilt, against bludgeons used overhand. The at- 
tacker's club is caught in the "V" of the long end and the handle; 
the officer grabs the club and then slides the Prosecutor down the 
length of the club, smashing the attacker's fingers. The problem 
is that this presumes an overhand attack; thrusts, jabs, and side- 
ways club swings can be better blocked if the officer holds the 
Prosecutor in the ready position. 

In any case, neither this nor the nunchaku nor any other 
"super weapon" should ever be used against an armed assailant, 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 15. Overhead bludgeon counter with the Prosecutor. Held swordlike 
with the hiltlike handle toward the oncoming club, opponent's weapon is 
caught at the intersection of the handle. Officer then grabs the long end of 
bludgeon with weak hand and rams Prosecutor handle down the stick onto 
suspect's knuckles to break his hold. 

despite the claims of the manufacturer. An assailant with a 
weapon is utilizing deadly force, and you must use your service 
pistol against such a threat. If you try an impact weapon instead, 
and fail, and the attacker goes over you and hurts someone else 
with his weapon, or with a deadlier weapon he has taken from 
you as you lie unconscious, you are at fatdt. 

Yawara Stick 

The yawara is commonly called, in police circles, a "persuader" 
or a "judo stick." The latter term is a misnomer; while the wea- 
pon is taught in combative jiujitsu, it is unknown in the sport- 
oriented martial art of judo. 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 16. Monadnock yawara stick with aluminum balls on either end, 
known colloquially to police as "rib separators." 

In essence, the yawara creates a reinforced fist. In a forward 
punch, it has the same effect as the roll of nickels carried by 
paperboys and street toughs since 1900; that is, it makes the fist 
rigid and heavy, and allows it to strike with a force approaching 
that of brass knuckles. 

This is the first aspect of the yawara. The second is that it ex- 
tends the fist one-quarter to three-quarters of an inch above and 
below, with a hard, focused impact surface. An uppercut with 
the top edge of the fist, or a hannner-fist strike, now delivers 
enormously magnified force. Some models — the cast aluminum 
"judo stick" marketed by Kel-Lite and others or the Monadnock 
"persuaders" with metal balls on each end — can easily shatter 
bones and become deadly weapons. 

Some jiujitsu students are taught to hook the end of the stick 


Modern Police Itnpacl Weapons 

Figure 17. Reinforced fist is basic yawara stick concept. 

inside an opponent's mouth and, with a twist, rip the inside of 
his mouth out. Some local judges have considered their use by 
police to be a transgression beyond permissible police procedure 
in non-lethal application of force. 

The Kel-Lite style, and one variation of the Monadnock, have 
sharp edges cut into each end of the sticks. These are supposedly 
to discourage assailants from tearing them from the officer's 
hand, but in fact, they also increase the capability of the weapon 
to severely lacerate flesh. 

Disadvantages are that the yawara is totally rangeless, and re- 
quires the officer to close in tightly with his opponent. The unit 
is only as good as the officer's ability to throw his fists and coun- 
terpunch; it will do no good to the officer who can't land a right 
cross in the first place. Blocking ability, for all but the master 
martial artists, is absent. 

Nature of the Weapons 37 

Advantages are compactness and element of surprise. 

In the "persuader" mode, the officer can use the butt end of 
the yawara, whether or not it has the metal ball embedded, to dig 
into pressure points such as those on the back of the hand be- 
tween the metacarpal bones, when the officer wishes to give a 
suspect enough pain to forego thoughts of fighting. 

Note: A lot of street people are carrying "invisible yawara." 
These are simply short lengths of cylindrical Acrilan™ material. 
Where they are cut at each end, these crude sticks become fear- 
some flesh-slicers. Due to the transparency of the Acrilan models, 
the officer may not see the weapon until too late. 

Interesting as it is, the yawara is little but a more socially ac- 
ceptable set of brass knuckles. Only the officer who has trained 
with the weapon and appreciates the subtlety of its application 
will ever be able to use this tool effectively on the street. Some 
homemade and even mail-order yawaras have spikes on either 
end. Whether or not the officer chooses to carry one of these, 
they are useful for narcs and for plainclothes officers who want 
an inconspicuous survival weapon. 

The yawara is an experts-only instrument. A trained man can 
be extremely deadly with one. Most officers avoid them, not for 
any reason except that it is strange, unconventional, and non- 
American looking, a fact that has allowed many suspects carrying 
them to go uncharged, since their innocuous little piece of wood 
or plastic or aluminum simply didn't look like a weapon to the 
arresting officers or the judge. 

Riot Batons 

The yard-long quarterstaff, or riot baton, is analogous to the 
bo or jo sticks of the various Oriental martial arts. Many of the 
techniques taught in karate can be translated effectively into law 
enforcement applications; others are as useless as tonfa katas to 
police use of the Prosecutor baton. 

The long stick is used today primarily in civil disturbance situ- 
ations. One strikes with it as if using the Kubota or Koga 
(LAPD-style) batons two handed, or as if the weapon was a 
bayonetted rifle. Many of our crowd control concepts used in 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

metropolitan America derive from techniques developed by 

The effectiveness of the quarterstaff, or the lack of effective- 
ness, will be a direct function of the tactics used by the officers 
who have been sent out to deal with the always-unique problem 
that caused the riot sticks to be issued in the first place. Some 
officers carry quarterstaffs in their vehicles, as well as conventional 
two-foot batons, but the quarterstaffs should not be employed in 
one-to-one confrontations because they are too cumbersome. A 
light, quick stick gives the officer more flexibility and reduces the 
likelihood of his being disarmed. 

This text will not delve into riot control techniques using the 
baton. The rest of the book is aimed at the individual officer's 
ability to control individual confrontations; in the midst of a 
mob, he has no choice but to act as a part of the mob-dispersion 
team, and his methods will have to be those taught by the depart- 





mi ■■■■■■■■ w 

Figure 18. Quarterstaff training: Illinois State Troopers during riot control 
exercises at Illinois Law Enforcement Academy at Springfield. This is the one 
law enforcement situation where it is proper to use what you're told instead 
of techniques that are better suited to your physique and skills. Courtesy of 
Illinois State Police. 

Nature of the Weapons 39 

ment to the rest of the team, or his actions will cause more prob- 
lems than they will solve. 

Those who recommend the use of esoteric impact weapons for 
crowd control — Anderson with the Prosecutor and Phillips with 
the nunchaku — do so with the caveat that all members of the 
crowd control team must be experts with those sticks. Most won't 
be, in real life. Nunchuks or Prosecutors swung wildly can injure 
fellow officers in the heat of a choked-in melee. While the quar- 
terstaff or riot baton is by no means the best weapon to defend 
one's self with, it is perhaps the best tool to defend one's team 
with when you are flailing in close quarters during a mob encoun- 
ter, and you can't know whether the back next to yours is that of 
a rioter or a brother officer. 

Certainly, the martial arts techniques of Bo-kibo or Kobu-do 
permit a single man with a quarterstaff to defend himself 
against an encroaching crowd of unarmed belligerents. But those 
techniques — wide sweeps that cut a swatch in front of the de- 
fender — were never meant for police crowd control problems, 
nor will they be suitable in an American gang attack on a single 
officer, who would be better off to draw his gun and give himself 
the option of either scaring his opponents into retreat or forci- 
bly defending himself against an organized attack that may end 
in his death, an attack he is legally permitted to repel by the 
more efficient deadly force of his handgun. In any case, those 
martial arts techniques of defending yourself alone with the 
quarterstaff are taught in few if any police academies. 

The quarterstaff, outside of a well-orchestrated flying wedge of 
policemen, is an anachronism that the individual officer should 
not rely upon in a one-on-one situation. While the length and 
the weight of the stick give him a great capability to defend 
himself against people he wants to stay away from him, there are 
few if any situations where the quarterstaff will serve him better 
than a regular nightstick when he wants to move in on one per- 
son and effect that person's arrest. 

Though some riot control teams are issued plastic quarterstaffs, 
most carry wooden sticks that have to be so thick (to prevent 
breakage) that they are ungainly to use in one-to-one encounters. 

40 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

While the 24 inch plastic stick is heavier and slightly more awk- 
ward to handle in mano-a-mano confrontations, the 36 inch plas- 
tic stick is definitely more maneuverable and quicker to handle 
in riot situations, because it will be relatively thinner and easier 
to manipulate, than the wooden equivalent. 

The officer who may be assigned to riot control details would 
do well to study the two-handed strikes and blocks of the Kubota 
method. These techniques will serve him well in any environ- 
ment, and many, though by no means all, are as suitable for per- 
sonal self-defense as for crowd control work as a part of a 
"protective circle," "flying wedge," or whatever. 

This text will not explore riot control formations. Insofar as 
the role of impact weapons for such operations, we will say only 
that the quarterstaff is better suited here than anywhere else, but 
that the 24 or 26 inch street baton gives the riot control officer 
more flexibility in protecting himself and gives him a weapon he 
is better trained with to perform in his dual roles as riot con- 
troller and police officer. There is little the three-foot quarterstaff 
can do that the two-foot baton can't, and the fact that the officer 
has been intensively trained with a single impact weapon (bear- 
ing in mind the fact that the vast majority of police have too 
little training with the impact weapon in any respect), concen- 
trated instruction with the standard stick could well eliminate the 
need for a larger "special occasion" riot stick. Look at the experi- 
ence of Boston, with its heavy crowd-control problems during the 
busing issue: Boston cops have been able to use effectively a 
crowd control system revolving around the Lamb baton tech- 
niques trained to all its officers. In a riot situation, the Boston 
cops come in swinging their Lamb batons cross-body, emphasizing 
the effect with stripes of reflector tape on their 24 inch sticks, and 
swinging them in rhythm as they shout "Move! Move! Move!" 

There are no crowd control diagrams in this book; the text you 
are reading is designed for the individual officer, not the member 
of a team. Conventional tactics may work for teams; indeed, 
they must, for the officer in the middle has little choice. We can 
say here only that the quarterstaff is not, by any standard, the 
weapon of choice when the lone officer walks into what may be 

Nature of the Weapons 41 

a "trouble" situation. It is too awkward for a man alone to han- 
dle unless he has had advanced training in such martial arts as 
kobu-do, and in any case, such techniques were designed for un- 
armed men facing deadly attack by a multitude of other un- 
armed men, when they had no deadlier weapons with which to 
fend off the attack. 

Policemen have other weapons to deter such overwhelming as- 
saults and should use them when they're alone. In modern police 
work, the quarterstaff is a weapon that should be used only by a 
member of a team in coordinated action, and it is not the place 
for this author or this book to determine how that team should 
operate on its own ground. 

Sap Gloves and Palm Saps 

The "heavy black gloves" are quite popular among police in 
some regions and flatly banned by department edict in others be- 
cause of their connotation of brutality. Essentially, sap gloves are 
good-quality gloves that have powdered lead sewn into the area 
of the knuckles and first digits of the fingers, or into the palm to 
create a sort of reinforced-fist effect. One brand, the Poly/ 
Steelwall™, is completely reinforced on the back, from fingertip 
to edge of wrist, with a layer of steel mesh in addition to the 
powdered lead. 

Most instructors agree that the best use of sap gloves is to pro- 
tect the hands when using two-handed sticks in riot situations; 
for this, the fully reinforced Poly /Steelwall style would seem 
to be ideal. For duty wear, however, this brand makes the hands 
awkward, and they are too stiff for casual carrying in belt or 
pocket. In conventional sap gloves, those with the lead sewn into 
the knuckle area allow the officer to wear them without seriously 
impairing his ability to drive or handle his weapon. 

Those who prefer the leaded palms say that the best way to use 
sap gloves is with a slap instead of a punch. This certainly 
makes a slap in the face feel like a hammer blow. But consider 
the ramifications. 

A slap in the face is normally seen by society as a classic chal- 
lenge to fight. This can bounce back on the officer in the court- 

Figure 19. Poly/Steelwall police gloves are extremely effective for riot control 
situations. In my opinion, however, they are too awkward, stiff, and bulky for 
routine patrol even when allowed by the department. The length of fingers 
and the whole back of the hand is protected. 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 20. Palm sap by Bucheimer Clark, while effective for slapping or re- 
inforcing a fist for a straight punch, lacks the versatility of a yawara stick. 
The wraparound design, however, makes it a weapon the officer can't lose 
while grappling. 

room later. The general feeling is that if force is warranted, the 
officer may use a right cross or a stick as necessary, and that if the 
danger is little enough that a solid punch isn't warranted, then 
neither is any other type of blow, especially one that is likely to 
inflame the suspect if it doesn't neutralize him. 

Moreover, there are many who view sap gloves as something- 
akin to brass knuckles — a thug's weapon, not a policeman's, and 
one that puts the cop in a bad light if he's accused of using that 
weapon overzealously. 

In a similar category is the palm sap, which is looped over the 
hand. It may comfortably be carried in a pocket, and like the sap 
gloves, allows the officer to keep his "extra edge" in his hand if 

44 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

he has to open his fingers to grab a fistful of his opponent's 

Sap gloves and palm saps do give an officer an advantage when 
he must "duke it out" with a suspect. They make a certain 
amount of sense in those rare departments where the officer has 
been instructed not to use his stick on the typical unarmed bar- 
fighter, though an agency with that philosophy will doubtless 
frown on weighted gloves as well. 

On a rough beat, a light pair of sap gloves that don't restrict 
hand movement do make for a little extra insurance, but the 
officer should be careful to determine beforehand that he is not 
violating department policy, and that his superiors will back him 
up if his reasonable use of the sap gloves brings on an excessive 
force charge. 

The Nunchaku* 

Fad weapons come and go among the street punks. Guns, 
knives, bludgeons — the basic concept is always there, but varia- 
tions come in waves. 

Twenty years ago, the fad weapons were zip guns, switchblade 
knives, and brass knuckles. You still see them today, but more 
sophisticated variations are taking their place. Now sawed-off 
shotguns are the criminal's choice for armed robbery, and the 
switchblade has been largely replaced by cheap stillettoes and 
trick knives that hide inside the belt where a frisk won't find 
them. Bludgeons, too, have been up-dated. 

They call the new version by a number of slang names, 
"Chucks," "nunchucks," "chakers," "karate sticks," or "killer 
sticks." True practitioners of the martial arts know it by a more 
revered name: nunchaku. 

In the feudal peasant days in Okinawa, the ruling lords for- 
bade the citizenry to possess any type of weapon, for fear that 
they would rise up against the armed and armored might of their 
tyrannical government. This left the peasants helpless against 
roving bands of criminals who remained unchecked by the sol- 

* Reprinted from Trooper, an Organization Services Corp. Publication, by 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 21. Four common styles of nunchaku a police officer can expect to 
encounter: (from bottom clockwise) round "chakers" chained together; ex- 
tra-heavy octagonal nunchucks that not only crush but also tear with their 
sharp edges; special police nunchaku made of heavy plastic, with short cord 
to facilitate scissoring; and relatively light sticks with extra-long cord for 
greater reach and flailing maneuverability. 

diers of the time. In desperation, the people of this agricultural 
society turned to the tools of the field and built fighting styles 
around them that rivalled the deadliest formal weapons of the 
period. Perhaps foremost among these was the simple rice flail, 
the nunchaku. 

It consisted of two pieces of wood, each about fourteen to 
sixteen inches long, and connected at one end by a cord of vary- 
ing length. 

They quickly learned that the rice flail could also flail human 
targets, and with great effect. The men held one of the sticks 
either at the base or partway up, and swung the other stick. The 

46 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

momentum it built up was devastating, especially when the base 
of each stick was weighted, momentum enough that the swinging 
stick could shatter the primitive body armor of the period, which 
was immune to any other kind of club, stick, or staff. 

Until about the end of the 1960s, the nunchaku was little 
known. Martial arts masters taught it only to their black belt stu- 
dents. But then came the kung-fu /karate craze, and Bruce Lee. 

Lee, who died in his early 30s, had been Kato on the Green 
Hornet TV series and had played superfighters in a number of 
other TV shows and movies. Trained in kung-fu, he branched 
out into all the other martial arts and eventually developed his 
own form, jeet kune do ("Way of the Intercepting Fist"). Now 
eulogized as the greatest martial artist of modern times, he was 
also one of the greatest showmen, He choreographed his own 
fight scenes, meticulously and exhaustively. 

After a number of successful Hong Kong quickies, Lee played 
the lead in the first major American film of the genre, Warner 
Brothers' stupendously successful Enter the Dragon. In the film, 
Lee used a handsomely crafted nunchaku to defeat a number of 

Lee's fighting ability on the screen was always breathtaking, but 
his use of the fighting sticks in Enter the Dragon absolutely 
captivated the audience. Almost overnight, two elements of the 
public had become fascinated with the weapon. 

One was the legitimate martial arts community. Use of the 
nunchaku had already been increasing among the practitioners, 
largely because of a book on the weapon written by Fumio De- 
mura, one of the pioneers of karate in this country. In most dojo 
(karate schools), kobujitsu or kobu-do (the art which involves 
the fighting sticks) had been taught only to advanced students, 
but now the "colored belts" of lower rank clamored for instruc- 
tion with the super-weapon. Many of the schools complied. 

But a second and sinister trend had developed. Martial arts 
films have always been popular in slum areas, partly because the 
constant action and frequently gross blood-letting they depicted 
was an even bigger seller of movie tickets than were the porno 
films. Street punks who had no interest in the true martial arts 

Nature of the Weapons 47 

saw Enter the Dragon and similar flicks and left the theaters 
muttering, "Man, I gotta get me a set of those sticks!" 

True nunchaku of various types are sold by mail order 
through the martial arts magazines for four to fifteen dollars. 
They are also available through some karate schools. A few larg- 
er cities have marital arts supply houses which sell them over the 

But while the karate-ka (karate practitioners) bought these 
well-made replicas, the street element generally made their own. 
Most of the nunchucks police have encountered in the street 
have been homemade. The usual design is a couple of lengths of 
sawed-off broomstick, or thick wooden dowelling, chained to- 
gether. (While some of the store-bought nunchaku are also 
chained, the most popular means of connecting the sticks is with 
a double length of waxed, braided nylon. Some inventive souls 
have used aircraft cable and similar esoteric materials.) Street 
users often drill the butts of their "chakers" hollow and weight 
them with lead or similar substances to increase their destructive 
power. A few homemade nunchaku have been encountered 
which were fabricated of Fiberglass®, and some of the cruder 
specimens have been assembled from lengths of pipe. 

True nunchaku come in several styles. Most popular are the 
octagonal sticks, each stick fourteen inches in length. One brand 
made in this country is four-sided: while the edges bite into the 
hands somewhat, they create wicked lacerations on the opponent. 
Because the "chakers" can also be held together and used for 
thrusting, in the manner of a short billy club, a popular model 
is the han-kei nunchaku, which is rounded on two sides and flat 
on the other two so that the twin sticks will hold together well. 
Completely rounded sticks cut less severely and are more com- 
fortable to handle. 

There are variations in which a long stick is chained to a short 
one, as opposed to the usual sticks of equal length. One holds the 
long end and strikes with the short. These are somewhat easier 
for an amateur to use, though he sacrifices much of his reach. 
Yet another style is the yon-setsu-knon nunchaku, which has two 
ten-inch sticks on either end, and two four-inch sticks toward the 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 22. Nunchaku is a lethal impact weapon with reach exceeding that of 
standard sticks; it carries a great momentum that can easily kill or cripple. An 
officer facing nunchuks is facing lethal weaponry and should respond with 
his service firearm. 

middle. Each are connected by short cords. This model is much 
more flexible, resembling a wooden whip when in action. 

How They Work 

The nunchaku is basically a fast-swinging striking tool. It can 
be used to either "flail" or "snap." In the former application, the 
user holds one stick solidly and, with short flicks of wrist and 
forearm, whips the other stick in front of him in a constant, 
sideways "figure-eight" pattern. Done properly, it looks to the op- 
ponent like eight sticks flickering at once. The "figure eight" is 
a defensive maneuver that is very hard to penetrate. Another 
method — more likely to be used by the untrained — is "propeller- 
twirling" the loose stick. 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 23. Police nunchaku by Monadnock is round to reduce lacerations, 
tapered for quick handling, with cord of optimum length for both flailing 
and scissoring. Weight and density of its Monpac construction give it dev- 
astating impact effect. Courtesy of Monadnock. 

Figure 24. Nunchaku is ineffective against a knife. An officer's only real 
chance of survival in such an encounter is to strike a potentially lethal blow 
to the head. Though some feel that this kind of "super impact weapon" 
eliminates the need for an officer to use his gun against a knife, there are 
several reasons why the gun is both more effective and less likely to result in 
injury to a knife-wielding suspect. 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 25. Nunchucks tan be whipped into the legs with bone-breaking force. 
In practice sessions, both individuals should wear heavy-duty protective gear. 

While it is relatively easy to disarm a punk using one of these 
"propeller style," the "figure-eight block" is very difficult to coun- 
ter. This maneuver should not normally be attempted by a bare- 
handed officer. 

The other striking technique is the "swing" or "snap." The 

Nature of l lie Weapons 51 

weapon may be slashed back, and forth horizontally (or once 
vertically) in front of the user. Unlike the flailing technique, in 
which the weapon is constantly in motion, a swing is usually a de- 
liberate shot to an opponent's body. Swinging strikes are usually 
directed to the head, the rib cage, or the legs. 

The "snap" can be even deadlier. A right-handed user holds 
the swinging end back either in his left hand or under his right 
armpit (see Fig. 25), as his right hand pulls slightly on the "con- 
trol stick," keeping the cord under fairly constant tension. He 
simultaneously snaps his right wrist and releases the other end; 
the striking stick whips forward with murderous speed. It is most 
effective when aimed at face, throat, diaphragm, groin, or knee- 

As soon as the weapon has struck, another flick of the nun- 
chaku-man's wrist whips the stick around to the right and back 
in toward his body, where he catches it beneath his armpit. He 
is now ready to strike again. The movement has taken perhaps 
less than a second, and a well-practiced fighter can keep the wea- 
pon snapping constantly in a blur of deadly motion. 

In addition to the power-packed momentum, the nunchaku has 
another lethal edge over other striking weapons: range. Even the 
most compact 'chaku — usually a couple of 12 inch sticks with a 
short cord — has a slight edge over the 24 inch police baton. The 
more common, bigger "chakers" have significantly greater reach. 
In effect, the nunchaku gives a fighter an "arm" more than dou- 
ble normal arms-length and vastly increases the potency of his 

The weapon looks inoffensive when held closed, and this can 
be dangerously deceptive to the officer. He may see a loiterer casu- 
ally holding a closed set of nunchaku, and approach within, say, 
seven feet, a distance that appears to be safe. Suddenly, with a 
flick of his right wrist, the punk snaps the weapon open and up- 
ward, nailing the cop in the crotch with a savagely destructive 
blow. Officers should take extreme care when approaching sus- 
pects armed with these weapons. Martial artists consider them 
deadlier than knives. 

There is a third application of the nunchaku that is even more 
lethal. If the cord is fairly short (three inches is about right) the 

Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 26. Nunchaku can be snapped forward, out from under the arm, with 
lethal force and accuracy. Don't fool with a man in this position. 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 27. Nunchaku choke-out technique works in seconds but care must be 
taken that chain or cord does not contact larynx. Danger of spine or brain 
damage is extremely great with this instrument due to the great pressure that 
can be brought to bear with it. 

54 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

weapon becomes a "nutcracker" that can scissor arm, wrist, or 
neck with a terrible leverage that can easily crush bone. When 
used on the neck from behind, it can break the cervical spine. 
More likely, it will cut off the blood supply to the brain, causing 
the victim to black out in moments. It has been reliably reported 
that this type of attack can cause a fatal stroke and other severe 
and permanent injuries. So used, it is an ideal tool for muggers 
and rapists. 

When used sideways — one stick behind the neck, and one in 
front of the throat — it can easily crush larynx and windpipe and 
can lever the cervical vertebrae swiftly apart, severing the spinal 

How Are They Carried? 

Those with the longer cords are often carried movie style, 
slung around the neck. If the cord is long enough, the two sticks 
hang down in such a manner that they are concealable even be- 
neath an open jacket. Pocket carry is common; still others carry 
the two sticks inside the waistband, butts up. 

Other, more ingenious methods have been seen on the street. 
The officer may encounter a suspect who slips one stick down the 
back of his neck and leaves the other outside his shirt, the 
weapon suspended by the cord on the collar. Under a jacket, it 
hangs invisibly in the hollow between the shoulder blades. An of- 
ficer frisking a suspect should always pat down this area. 

Still another popular hiding place is the coat-sleeve. One stick 
is inside the sleeve, one loose inside the jacket. The weapon is in 
an ideal position to be snapped out quickly from the under-arm 
hold position for a surprise snap or swing. Shorter nunchaku can 
be concealed inside a long-sleeve shirt. Watch for three open but- 
tons in the middle of the shirtfront and for a tell-tale bulge in 
the region of the forearm when the elbow is bent, or for a sus- 
pect who keeps one arm in an unusually straight and stiff 

Nunchucks can also be found under car seats and hanging 
from rear-view mirrows. Officers working the famous New 
Hampshire Motorcycle Races, where 40,000 cycle buffs converge 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 28. Plainclothesmen (and street people) carry nunchakus in waistband 
behind hip. Weapon is accessible for surprise, quick draw-and-strike with 
either hand and is extremely concealable and comfortable. 

each year, have noticed a growing number of these weapons in 
the hands of the outlaw fringe. They've been observed in saddle- 

bags and hanging from handlebars. 

56 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

What's the Story Legally? 

A few places have flatly outlawed possession of nunchaku. 
California has been said to have recently relaxed the ban, to the 
extent that the weapons may be used in karate schools by legiti- 
mate practitioners. In one major northeastern city, an elected of- 
ficial recently moved to have what he called "killer sticks" placed 
on the same level as sawed-off shotguns and machineguns as for- 
bidden weapons. 

In most other regions, the officer can make a concealed weapons 
arrest on a nunchaku carrier in the same manner as if the man 
were packing brass knuckles, blackjack, or lead-pipe bludgeon. 

A word of caution here, however: Many karate students carry 
their 'chakus from home to class, on their person. It would be un- 
fair to roust these people, since legitimate martial artists no more 
pull muggings than legitimate target shooters commit holdups. 
When a suspect tells you that he is a student, check with his 
school to confirm his innocent intentions before booking him. 
You're less likely to run into this today, since lawmen are becom- 
ing more aware of this weapon and have been busting nunchaku 
carriers frequently, with the result that the legitimate users are 
carrying their sticks in special cases or in gym bags. 

What Do the Martial Artists Use It For? 

Like most of the martial arts weapons systems, it is considered 
more a highly sophisticated training exercise than a practical self- 
defense measure, although some dojo are teaching its use in the 
latter light. 

Use of the martial arts weapons in kata or training exercises 
demands precise timing, perfect coordination, and a keen eye for 
distance, and constant practice with the nunchaku develops all 
these attributes. Relatively few of the serious martial artists who 
work out with the nunchaku ever carry it on the street. 

How Do You Handle a Cop Fighter With a Set of These? 

A cop fighter carrying nunchaku should be handled very, very 
carefully, in much the same manner that you would cope with 
a really good knife-fighter. Stay well back out of his range, and 

Nature of the Weapons 57 

employ a chemical spray like Mace, Curb, or Federal Streamer. 
Your department's policy about not spraying directly into the 
face may be relaxed when you are facing a deadly weapon. The 
spray should be used with the left hand, with the service sidearm 
drawn in the right. 

Disarming a nunchaku man barehanded is as fool-hardy as at- 
tempting the same with a knife-wielder. If you are in a situation 
where you must use only your hands, keep moving constantly: 
once the nunchaku fighter starts his swing, it's difficult for him 
to adjust his aim to nail a moving target. 

The snapping motion is perhaps the deadliest: It comes too 
fast for you to count on evading it, and there is no way to block 
it barehanded without risking serious injury. 

When facing an amateur who is not flailing the sticks too 
swiftly, it is sometimes possible to dare it and grab the swinging 
end. If you must do this, take two warnings: Grab for the end 
nearest the cord, which will greatly lessen the impact delivered to 
your hand, since most of the momentum is in the outer end. If 
you stop the swing in this manner, be careful that your opponent 
doesn't catch the other end of that stick with his left hand. If 
he does, he can scissor your hand at the connected end, crushing 
your knuckles. 

Second, catch the weapon, don't block it. A rigid block will 
serve only to increase the impact of the stick into your hand. In- 
stead, swing your hand in an outward, intercepting motion. That 
is, if an open nunchaku is swinging in on you from your left, 
bring your hand in a circular motion out from the center of 
your body to your left and back, with your palm toward the wea- 
pon. This way, instead of meeting force with force, your hand 
redirects the swing of the nunchaku, destroying its momentum. 
Keep your other hand up to shield your face in case the stick 
penetrates your defense. 

Again, it should be emphasized that the nunchaku is an ex- 
tremely lethal weapon — deadlier than almost any other type of 
bludgeon — and barehanded defense should not be attempted un- 
less the officer has been disarmed. 

One thing in the cop's favor is that this is a particularly tricky 

58 Modem Police Impact Weapons 

weapon, and the average street punk has had no proper training 
in its use. He is likely to flail wildly and awkwardly with it. Also, 
the weapon is unique in that the user can easily hit himself with 
it if he miscalculates. Even black belt weaponmasters have been 
known to nail themselves painfully on elbow or noggin. One 
Colorado officer reports, "This guy came out of his car at me 
swinging a set of those sticks. I just stepped back and let him 
practically beat himself to death." 

Why Don't Police Carry Them? 

They do. Camden, Wildwood, and a few other New Jersey de- 
partments have either adopted them or made them optional for 
cops to carry. However, both of these departments have advanced 
black belt weapons experts on the force, to supervise training. A 
handful of individual officers throughout the country use them, 
but almost invariably, these are cops who are involved in the 
martial arts in private life and have extensive training, just as 
most cops who carry .45 automatics are gun enthusiasts on their 
own time. In both instances the officer is practicing constantly 
with his weapon, and it works for him where it wouldn't with a 
cop of only average training. (Massachusetts, as well as other 
states, has laws against the weapon, it should be noted.) 

I did a series on this subject for Karate Illustrated magazine, 
which argued that the weapon is too destructive to serve as a less- 
lethal police impact weapon, and that it requires intense training 
and frequent practice to attain proficiency.* Also, anyone who 
has seen the weapon in action will recognize the potential police 
brutality factor in the public eye: One police department which 
adopted the twin sticks was forced by public outcry to abandon 
them after they were shown in action on a local TV news-spot. 

Nunchaku is a weapon you, as a policeman, will be seeing more 
of. You may have seen it already and not even noticed. The mar- 

* Those interested in learning more about this weapon may wish to read 
Nunchaku, Karate Weapon of Self Defense by Fumio Demura, from Ohara Publi- 
cations, 5050 West Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, California 90016; and Nunchaku 
and Law Enforcement by Ptl. James Phillips, from Officer Phillips, c/o Camden, 
New Jersey PD. 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 29. Leading police nunchaku expert Jim Phillips, left, discusses the in- 
strument with Paul Starrett of Monadnock. 

tial arts "chop-socky" flicks are emphasizing them more and more, 
and the TV networks, who are looking more and more at martial 
arts mini-movies, are sure to follow. It appears that the nun- 
chaku will be the fad weapon of the street punk for years to come. 
Watch out for it. 


The Sidearm as an Impact Weapon 

All officers are cautioned in basic training that they should 
never strike a suspect with their handgun. There are three excel- 
lent reasons for this. First, the weight and sharp angles are likely 
to cause splintering fractures of bone areas so struck. Second, an 
accidental discharge is quite possible. Third, no handgun is de- 
signed to take sharp blows against hard objects, and such an im- 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 30. Using revolver as impact weapon can damage not only suspect but 
also gun; trigger guard on this .38 service revolver has been badly bent. 
Courtesy of MFA. 

pact may render the weapon inoperable by damaging the main- 
spring housed in the butt, by bending the ejector rod to the 
extent that the cylinder will not turn (especially likely in some 
Colt and Charter Arms revolvers) or by bending the trigger 
guard sufficiently to jam the trigger (to which light alloy-frame 
revolvers, and those with cutaway trigger guards, are particularly 

We should recognize, however, that there are situations when 
the officer will find himself with gun drawn, and suddenly faced 
with an unarmed attacker who is assaulting him violently and 
perhaps attempting to grab the service revolver. It will often, in 
such cases, be impractical to holster and secure the gun, and then 
resort to hand-to-hand subdual or draw a "less-lethal" weapon. If 
the officer holds his gun hand out of the way and attempts to re- 

Nature of the Weapons 61 

strain the suspect with his weak hand alone, he is likely to be 
overpowered. Throwing the sidearm away is extremely danger- 
ous: The attacker may break away from the struggle and retrieve 
the handgun before the officer can, or one of his accomplices 
may grab the weapon. A friend of mine, a police officer who 
happened also to be a master karate instructor, found himself in 
such a position on a lakeside pier. He flipped his revolver into ten 

Figure 31. This figure shows several right and wrong aspects about holding 
the service revolver when striking a suspect with it. Right aspects are that the 
web of the hand is firmly under the hammer to prevent accidental discharge 
and that the "fisted butt" (the striking surface) protrudes from the bottom 
of the hand. This officer has brought up two fingers to cover the trigger 
guard; this is wrong because (a) the blocked hammer prevents discharge any- 
way, (b) suspect can still get a finger inside the trigger guard, and (c) the 
officer's middle finger, the strongest, should be locked securely around the 
narrow upper part of the grip as it would be in firing position (this gives him 
maximum leverage if suspect is grappling for the service revolver) . Grips on 
this handgun are rubber ones by Pachmayr; these not only reduce the likeli- 
hood of lacerating or fracturing suspect, but they have excellent characteris- 
tics for combat shooting. 

62 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

feet of water, and then dispatched his attacker hand-to-hand. 
Since he was carrying a spare gun, he did not feel that he had 
handicapped himself unduly. However, it would be hard to 
imagine any other set of circumstances in which deep-sixing his 
sidearm would have been justified or even possible. 

For the average officer caught in this predicament, striking the 
attacker with the gun may indeed be the only way out. When the 
officer believes this to be the case, the following technique should 
be employed. 

Roll the revolver back into the fist, with the web of the hand 
solidly in the hook of the uncocked hammer. This does two 
things. First, it prevents the gun from being fired accidentally or 
otherwise, since the double-action revolver cannot fire unless the 
hammer is raised and dropped. Impact will not "jar off" the gun, 
since any modern police revolver has a safety bar between ham- 
mer and firing pin or between firing pin and cartridge that drops 
only when the hammer or trigger is deliberately pulled back. 

Second, this allows the hard and usually square-cornered lower 
rear edge of the butt to protrude from below the heel of the 
hand. A hammer-fist blow or side-slash with this "fisted butt" will 
deliver enormous impact that will easily splinter bone and lacer- 
ate badly. For this reason, such a blow should never be aimed at 
the upper head, or the back of the neck. It will, however, be ex- 
tremely effective against collarbone or jaw. 

A blow with the gun barrel may not be effective, since the 
lounded contour will allow it to glance off the suspect's body, re- 
ducing stunning effect. Jabbing with the gun muzzle may deliver 
effective force, but at the risk of the gun turning in the hand at 
impact; with the forward motion, and the fact that the finger is 
probably tight around the trigger, an accidental discharge is quite 
likely. If time permits, the officer may wish to position his index 
finger behind the trigger. This will positively prevent an acciden- 
tal shot, but also increases the likelihood of his finger being 
broken on impact or if the suspect grabs and twists the weapon. 

The rifle or shotgun may be used as a striking implement, as 
any soldier knows. Again, muzzle-jabs, while extremely effective 
blows, present a great danger of an accidental discharge: the of- 

Nature of the Weapons 


ficer is, alter all, grasping the weapon very tightly and is thrust- 
ing with it violently. Since there usually isn't room inside a rifle 
or shotgun trigger guard to insert a blocking finger behind the 
trigger, the gun hand should not be in firing position. It is best 

Figure 32. Proper method of shielding shotgun trigger when closing in a 
grappling situation. 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

to have one or two fingers over the outside of the trigger guard 
(see Fig. 32), to prevent the opponent from getting his finger on 
the trigger and loosing a wild round. 

The same danger of accidental discharge applies when the bar- 
rel is used in a slashing movement against collarbone or head. 
The most effective blows with a rifle or shotgun are delivered 
with the butt. The officer should grasp the weapon by the front 
of the barrel with his weak hand, holding his strong hand on the 
pistol-grip of the stock. The man with his hands closest to the 
ends of a 31,4-foot weapon will normally control its motion, as we 
have seen with the riot baton. However, the shotgun has one 
advantage for the man armed with one: the shape of the butt- 
stock prevents a man from getting a secure hold on the end of 
it. If an attacker grabs the stock by its upper rear edge, he cannot 

Figure 33a. Since buttstock below pistol grip controlled by officer is too wide 
for a solid hold by suspect, officer will find it fairly easy to slam stock for- 
ward out of suspect's grasp and up into a decisive groin strike. 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 33b. Grappling for shotgun: Suspect has a leverage advantage because, 
since officer dare not remove his hands from "controls," suspect can grab 
farther out on the weapon. Officer should keep the gun in rapid motion, 
sideways, back and forth, up and down. 

prevent the officer from slashing forward and striking the at- 
tacker in groin or kneecap with the lower edge of the butt. Con- 
versely, if the suspect grabs the lower edge, a smart backward mo- 
tion by the officer will pull the gun completely away from the 
attacker's hand. 

An officer in such a grappling situation should keep the gun 
moving at all times, with the muzzle and butt both moving in 
sharp figure-eight patterns, and the gun constantly being jerked 
upward and downward in a 180 degree arc. This reduces the at- 
tacker's leverage. The officer should kick at the suspect's knees 
and shins, and then pull and step backward. He may also wish to 
jerk the suspect in toward himself and deliver a knee to the 

66 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Officers with military training in bayonet and pngil sticks 
should restrain their ingrained impulse to smash the attacker 
with the rifle butt once he is down. This would be considered 
lethal force, exercised against an unarmed opponent who is not, 
at this moment, capable of offering deadly danger. However, if 
the downed suspect reached at this time for a gun or other dead- 
ly weapon, and the officer did not feel it expedient to fire the gun 
at him, a downward blow of the buttstock to skull, neck, or spine 
should terminate the encounter. 

The officer who is permitted to do so should consider fitting his 
service revolver with a set of Pachmayr Presentation Grips®. 
These are made of black rubber composition and will reduce the 
likelihood of lacerating and breaking bone when the officer must 
strike a suspect with the "fisted butt" of his revolver. They also 
afford an excellent hold for combat shooting and prevent the re- 
volver from twisting in the hand, either from heavy recoil dur- 
ing firing or when someone is grappling for it. Finally, these 
grips do not show dents and scars as do wooden stocks, and they 
have a businesslike look that complements a well-dressed officer's 
overall appearance. 

The Flashlight as an Impact Weapon 

A high percentage of our police officers have acquired heavy- 
duty flashlights for patrol duties. Typified by Safariland's Kel- 
Lite®, and including the Bianchi B-Lite®, the Tru-Grit®, and a 
version of the Pro-Light® among others, these units are made of 
heavy aircraft aluminum tubing. They cost perhaps five times as 
much as conventional flashlights of the same battery capacity and 

Theoretically, they are "heavy duty" in the sense that they can 
easily absorb abuse that would KG* an ordinary flashlight. One 
can, for example, drive a car back and forth over a small-head 
Kel-Lite or similar product without harming it. But this is not 
the reason most officers carry them. 

They carry them as bludgeons. 

Like all impact weapons, the heavy duty flashlight has its pros 
and cons. The most obvious advantage is that, during any night- 
stop, it will probably be in the officer's hand at the moment he is 

Nature of the Weapons 67 

Figure 34. Three typical police flashlight weapons. Top: Three-cell D-size 
Bianchi B-Lite has bullet-shaped butt, reducing lacerations when light is 
swung but increasing damage when thrust. Center: Tru-Grit flashlight is 
thickest and heaviest of the D-cells, with interchangeable one-cell sections to 
allow officer to change size as needed. Bottom: Safariland Kel-Lite is the most 
popular police flashlight, an excellent choice. 

attacked, dramatically reducing reaction time. It also permits an 
officer to combine two bulky pieces of equipment, saving weight 
and comfort. 

But the disadvantages are also many. The rigidity of the flash- 
light, coupled with the weight of the aluminum barrel and the 
three to five or more heavy batteries, creates a bludgeon deadlier 
than a lead pipe. Consider a strike across the kneecap. A wooden 
baton probably won't break the bone. A plastic baton in the same 
man's hands may cause a simple fracture of the patella. But the 
heavy flashlight, swung with the same force, can smash the knee- 
cap into particles. 

I once had call, in a police classroom, to demonstrate this to a 
doubtful student: I approached a combination desk/chair, and 
struck it with each of three weapons. The 26 inch hickory baton 
made an impressively loud noise smashed full-force across the 
desk top. I did the same with a 24 inch Monadnock plastic stick, 
and the desk bounced in the air from the shock. 

I then picked up a four-cell Tru-Grit flashlight, and swung it 

68 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

down onto the desktop with moderate force. As the echo of the 
crashing sound died and the vibrations of the desk stopped, we 
could see that all three layers of the tough, laminated plywood 
top were cracked through, and the upper-most layer was finely 
shattered for an area of about an inch surrounding point of im- 
pact. "That's what you may do to a man's skull if you clobber 
him with a 'police flashlight.' " 

This is not to say that the H/D flashlight has no place as a de- 
fensive tool. It does, but it requires special training and under- 
standing of the potential deadliness of the weapon when used as 
a bludgeon, as 99 percent of the officers carrying it would use it 
in a fight situation. 

With Kubota-type moves, the long, heavy police flashlight be- 
comes a humane and effective impact weapon. Used as a blocking 
tool, on the underside of the forearm, it will absorb impact bet- 
ter than any baton. A rearward jab will take the wind out of any 
opponent. A forward jab can be quite effective, though due to the 
shape of the flashlight head, it is likely to lacerate flesh. It is not 
likely that a frontal blow will cause the lens to shatter, cutting 
the suspect; most of these "torches" have tough Lexan® lenses, 
and only a direct jab to the point of the chin is likely to break 

Some officers hold the flashlight on a suspect in the position 
illustrated in Figure 35: elbow at side, hand next to face, with 
the flashlight head protruding from the bottom rather than the 
top of the hand. This facilitates a quick, surprise "bludgeon 
blow" but reduces the officer's ability to block effectively and 
strike humanely with the instrument. 

The flashlight should be held as in Figure 36. This not only 
gives the officer maximum control of the light beam but allows 
him to use Kubota-type blocks and strikes. 

To be effective in this application, the light should be at least 
a four-cell, preferably a five. A three-cell flashlight is too short 
for adequate blocking or optimum striking. 

Many officers prefer the slim "C" cell versions over the more 
common "D"-battery size. The Cs fit comfortably in most baton 
rings and in the "sap pocket" of most uniform trousers. Little 
blocking or striking ability is sacrificed (in the Kubota method, 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 35. Many officers are taught to approach cars this way with their police 
flashlights, but consider that (a) many motorists will readily perceive that the 
hold facilitates a clubbing motion of the flashlight and (b) there is little you 
can do in this position except swing it like a bludgeon. Many officers will also 
argue that it does not give the best light for spotting would-be aggressors in 
a darkened car. 

weight is actually a disadvantage), and the essential quality of 
rigidity and stnrdiness is retained. Duration of light, however, is 
dramatically reduced in the "C" cell. 

Small-head flashlights will be more comfortable to carry and 
are quite sufficient in terms of light output. The officer who 
wants maximum illumination will do better to buy a flashlight 
with extra battery capacity and high-intensity bulbs than to go to 
the bulky large-head design. 

Shape of the flashlight butt has been debated by the various 
manufacturers. At this writing, the Kel-Lite has a flat bottom 
rounded at the edges; the Bianchi B-Lite has a bullet-shaped 
butt; and the Tru-Grit, due to its sectioned design, has a flat bot- 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 36. When held in the conventional position, the flashlight can be used 
(left top) to jab to abdomen or midsection (left bottom) , in a block or 
armbar technique, or (above) in a two-handed jab that will be instinctive to 
any officer trained in LAPD-style straight-stickfighting methods. Photographs 
by Robert Kern. 

torn with sharply serrated edges. The Tru-Grit, therefore, will 
cause the most serious lacerations when used in a hammer-fist 
blow. The B-Lite's distributors say that the bluntly conical end- 
piece on their product will reduce lacerations. They're right, but 
it will also increase the likelihood of, for instance, a depressed 
skull fracture when a hammer-fist blow is struck to the suspect's 
head. The small end area focuses impact. The Kel-Lite's design 
is probably the optimum, insofar as impact weapon capability is 

72 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

At least one police flashlight, Gem-Lite®, is available with a 
screw-in butt section that houses an incapacitating aerosol spray. 
This optional unit attaches to many of the other heavy duty 
flashlights as well. It too has good and bad points. The unconven- 
tional housing will certainly take a suspect by surprise, prevent- 
ing him from shielding his face against the CN spray. This de- 
sign is also preferable to previous "tear-gas flashlights," which 
were designed to be activated while the flashlight was in a hori- 
zontal position. In some of these units, residue from the carrier 
substance in the chemical mix would crystallize in the necessarily 
long plastic tube inside the flashlight, and after the first couple 
of "shots," the unit was likely to jam. Since the Gem-Lite is op- 
erated in a vertical position via a conventional aerosol head, this 
malfunction is not likely to occur. 

Other "combination" impact weapons will be discussed sep- 
arately in this book. 

It is not wise to use conventional, light aluminum- or plastic- 
bodied flashlights as impact weapons. Due to battery weight and 
hardness of the outside shell, injuries will be almost as severe, yet 
the unit is liable to break apart upon impact. This creates its own 
problems: The officer is left in darkness, and the very fact that 
he hit the suspect hard enough to shatter the flashlight may, in 
the eyes of some courts, become clear evidence of a savagely vio- 
lent blow that constitutes excessive force. 

Many police departments have made it quite clear to their of- 
ficers that, since the heavy-duty flashlight was not an issue impact 
weapon, or in most cases, even issue equipment, any lawsuits aris- 
ing from injuries inflicted with such weapons would be the 
officer's own problem, and that the department would not under- 
take the officer's legal defense in such a situation. This is a 
precedent to be seriously considered by the officer who chooses to 
carry the heavy duty police flashlight as an implement of self- 

It appears, then, that the heavy duty flashlight should not be 
considered as a primary impact weapon. Its sturdiness makes it 
excellent as a source of illumination for the patrolman or 
trooper; its design allows him to use it to block or jab in the 
Kubota style during a fight. But the officer who uses it as a 

Nature of the Weapons 


bludgeon does so at his own extreme risk, since it is likely that lie 
will not only injure the suspect severely but will not be backed 
up by his department in the event of excessive force charges and 
civil suits. 

Handcuffs as Impact Weapons 

One of the first things every rookie policeman hears is "Never 
let go of those bracelets when you're cuffing a suspect, son. If the 
guy gets loose, he'll rip your face off with a swing of that loose 

Obviously, the police officer can do the same with the handcuffs 
if he gets into a sudden situation that requires an impact weapon 
and has nothing within reach but his drawn handcuffs. 

The swinging motion of a loose handcuff is extremely destruc- 

Figure 37. The proper method of holding handcuffs as makeshift impact 
weapons. Punch to soft areas as the heavy, unshielded metal is likely to 
lacerate and to break bones, yet the impact will "penetrate" the heaviest 
muscles. Officers are frequently assaulted as they move in to cuff suspect and 
holding the cuffs in this position during approach is sometimes a valuable 
technique. If you do so, hold cuffs loosely so your preparedness to strike will 
not be readily perceived by the suspect. Photograph by R. Morin. 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 38a. When drawing handcuffs as improvised impact weapon, the tips 
of the fingers slide into the bracelets from the inside. 

Figure 38b. When cuffs are drawn, the third finger flips the body of cuffs into 
position as palm of hand closes. The result is extremely effective "knucks." 
Warning: This is an extremely destructive technique, to be used only in 
emergencies. An officer who draws his cuffs before being assaulted, with the 
intent of striking the suspect with them, will be open to charges of brutality. 
This technique is shown only as a rapid and simple "last resort" for an officer 
who is being overwhelmed but doesn't wish to draw his gun. Photograph by 
R. Morin. 

76 Modern Police Impact. Weapons 

tive; it acts like a miniature steel nunchaku. Momentum of the 
swinging bracelet combines with the weight and hardness of the 
naked steel to create a severe injury, one that could be fatal if 
the blow is struck to the temple. An open, saw-toothed cuff will 
cause severe lacerations or scoop an eyeball right out of its socket. 

Regulation police handcuffs should not normally be considered 
impact weapons. However, as with the sidearm and the flashlight, 
there may be moments when the officer will have to strike an op- 
ponent with something more potent than his bare fist, and he will 
have to strike that blow with whatever is in hand. The nature of 
brawls involving officers are such that the policeman is frequent- 
ly attacked while attempting to manacle the suspect, and the cuffs 
are already in his hand. 

The most effective way to use handcuffs for striking is as make- 
shift "knucks." However, it is very easy for the officer to break 
his own hand doing so unless he uses a particular technique. 

If the officer is holding the cuffs sideways (that is, with the 
lock mechanism protruding from above his thumb), frontal im- 
pact may slam the bracelets shut, breaking his two fingers inside 
the cuff. When this happens, the palm of the officer's hand may 
also be gouged by the saw-toothed edge of the handcuff's locking 
arm. If he is holding the unit with the lock mechanism to the 
front, a lateral impact, as from a hooking punch, will lever the 
handcuffs back sharply enough to break or dislocate those two 

For striking, the handcuffs should be held with the bracelets to- 
gether, with the index and middle fingers looped through the 
cuffs, and with the lock mechanism in the palm of the liand. 
This precludes injury to the officer, yet reinforces his hand and 
focuses impact dramatically. A punch delivered to a bony sur- 
face will probably cause a fracture; a blow to the softer body 
parts will usually be all the officer needs, since the narrow hard 
surface penetrates very deeply, on the same principle as a bare- 
handed punch with one knuckle extended. This focusing is en- 
hanced when the cuffs are held properly for striking, since the 
forwardmost surface will be the raised edge of the joint on 
which the locking arm of the handcuff bracelet swings. 

Nature of Lite Weapons 77 

As with the flashlight, an officer using this unconventional 
"impact weapon" may run into trouble if litigation follows his 
striking the suspect. Policemen put in that unenviable position 
usually wind up saying, "Your honor, he swung at me so fast that 
I counterpunched before I remembered I was holding the hand- 

Makeshift Impact Weapons 

Unarmed combat instructors teach you that when you're being 
backed to the wall by weight of bulk or numbers, you should for- 
get about fists and karate chops and pick up the nearest hard ob- 
ject to use for a bludgeon. 

Probably, though, a full beer bottle or a tire iron won't be 
right there, and even if they were and you used them, there 
might be someone on the civilian review board or elsewhere who 
would consider that to be a brutal barfiehters' tactic that should 
ban the user from wearing a badge. 

"Lone Ranger" morality is cold comfort if you're about to be 
outfought and crippled by one or more savage attackers. There 
is one "weapon" you can carry constantly, in uniform and off 
duty, that no one will make you check whether you're going into 
a Maximum Security Prisoner Detention Room or through an air- 
port metal detector. It's a simple, everyday instrument that per- 
forms a utilitarian function, and doubles as a savagely potent 

Belt-slung Keyring 

Get a keyring like the Bianchi, which becomes an eight-inch 
leather strap which snap-loops over the belt. One problem with 
the Bianchi, however, is that its quick-release keyring design may 
permit the heavy keyring to come loose and fly away after the 
first blow, leaving you weaponless. Bucheimer Clark makes a unit 
more secure but not quite so flexible. 

Put lots of keys on it, even the left-over spares for that auto 
you traded in five years ago. They'll add weight and bulk. Stagger 
the keys, one with the edge facing down, the next with the sharp 
edge facing up, etc. You want three-quarters to a full pound of 
metal, or enough to occupy about three-quarters of the keyring. 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 39. A flick of the finger drops 'he snap-detaching- 'eyring into the 
officer's palm, creating an extremely destructive makes! ck, one that 
should be used only in desperate situations. To max ; : value, of- 
ficer sh- "Id turn opposite side to assailant as he s ,: r striking 

Nature of the Weapons 


The thick, flexible strap of leather will, when the thing is 
swung, create the same momentum effect as a spring-loaded black- 
jack handle, only greater. The weight and hardness of the un- 
shielded metal delivers a crushing blow, and the sharp edges of 
the keys — which, if staggered, will be effective no matter which 
way the weapon is swung — cause large and bloody lacerations. 

This innocuous makeshift causes such damaging impact that 
^should not be considered a standard impact weapon. It is, how- 
ever} something to keep in mind if you ever have to go unarmed 
into an environment such as a detention center where you may 
be attacked with ]a contraband weapon or by multiple, unarmed 
assailants. Blows to the eyes will probably cause blindness; strikes 
to the throat or ^temple may kill. A strike to wrist or kneecap will 
numb the extremity and often break the bone, while a slash 

Figure 40. After drawing the ring, the officer should step back quickly with 

the weak leg - " pb's method, keld at the flexible end, the keyring is 

swung sud>" d over, here. to the attacker's neck. This is a useful 

weapon fo v 
r 5 o 


•vthers who must be ostensibly unarmed in detention 

etc. Photograph by R. Kern. 



Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 41a. Adaptation of Villari belt-fighting techniques for police officer. 
Author has whipped dress belt from loops, wrapped non-buckle end securely 
around one hand, and grasped buckle in the other. Holding it taut and 
vertical, a sharp swing deflects punch. 

across forehead or scalp will have a stunning effect accompanied 
by a copious, blinding, and demoralizing flow of blood. 

To use, hook the keyring strap over your belt, behind the hip, 
on your strong-hand side. Sweep your hand upward to "draw," 
the edge of your palm or little finger breaking loose the retainer. 
The weight of the keys will drop the strap into your waiting 
fingers. Slash upward, or sideways. 

Think of it as an extremely destructive makeshift blackjack, 
to be used for extreme emergencies only. It will need a solid 
swing behind it to take effect, and range is short, so plan your 
strategy accordingly. Keep your weak side toward your oncoming 
attacker, so he won't see you preparing to use it; surprise is one 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 41b. After deflecting a punch and stepping back, officer whips belt 
around suspect's wrist and tightens it. Stepping back again, he pulls suspect 
off balance and counters with a sidekick to knee. 

of the main advantages of this unorthodox defensive technique 
(Fig. 39). Let your attacker move in toward you, then slide your 
weak leg back as you strike. This gives you better control and 
protection at this necessarily close range (Fig. 40). 


The standard pants belt (as opposed to the stiff 2 j4 inch gun- 
belt) can be a formidable close-quarters weapon. Quite apart 
from swinging it over your head and hitting your attacker with 
it, you can use this innocuous piece of dresswear to tie up, sub- 
due, disarm, or kill an attacker. 

Most officers wear li/£ inch leather garrison belts, or standard 
dress belts, to actually hold their pants up. The policeman would 
do better to don a web belt with infinitely adjustable brass 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 42a. A more destructive alternative technique is, after deflecting the 
punch, to step into the suspect and behind his shoulder and quickly loop the 
belt around his neck. 

buckle, the type issued to most military personnel for dress and 
fatigue wear. The advantages, apart from comfort, include 
flexibility, improved "drawing speed," greater momentum when 
the belt is swung overhead as a long-range impact weapon, and 
speed of handling in grappling maneuvers. 

The swinging application is limited. It has to be swung over 
the head to gain momentum and stay in motion for an accurate 
strike, and this means that you telegraph your blow as you wind 
it up; your opponent can judge what you'll do by your advance 
movement and have plenty of time to prepare himself for an 

Nature of the Weapons 


Figure 42b. The officer then draws noose tight. Caution: This is a killing 
technique, to be used only when an otherwise unarmed officer is facing 
deadly danger. Larynx may be seriously or fatally injured when full pressure 
is applied. Officer may also bend forward, flipping suspect backwards over his 
shoulder, a movement that will almost certainly break the suspect's neck. Note 
that belt fighting is a subtle technique and requires extensive practice to 
create the right timing. 

evasion or counter-attack. Range is excellent, greater than any 
standard impact weapon because of the belt's length, but a wea- 
pon of great range is useless if the target can see it coming and 
defend against it. 

A better approach is to use the type of belt-fighting technique 
taught by karate master Fred Villari. The flexible belt is held in 

84 Modern Police Imparl Weapons 

both hands, the buckle in one, and a turn of belt material 
around the other fist securing the loose end. Held taut, this is an 
extremely effective block that can intercept punches, kicks, and 
some bludgeon attacks. As you block a fist or foot, a flick of the 
wrist loops the belt around the suspect's forearm or ankle; you 
can now tighten the noose by snapping your hands outward, and 
then jerk him off balance and to the floor. 

A variation is to loop the belt quickly around the neck of the 
attacker. Slip in behind him on his open side, your back against 
his, and bend forward as if to "flip" him. Holding this position, 
you can choke him unconscious; by completing the flip, if you 
don't let go of the belt, you can break his neck. In this position, 
he can't reach you with hands or feet without a movement that 
will snap his own cervical spine. 

Like the keychain, the belt can become an extremely effective 
makeshift defense weapon for the officer who must enter hostile 
environments while ostensibly "unarmed." 

The military-style web dress belt can also be used as a restrain- 
ing device in the absence of steel or special plastic handcuffs. 
Caution: This technique was designed for military prisoners of 
war, with the thought in mind that the prisoner would be con- 
stantly at rifle- or bayonet-point. A prisoner left unattended can 
wriggle out of this makeshift restraint. 

An even more valuable attribute of the dress web belt for stan- 
dard police wear under the gunbelt is its adaptability, by virtue 
of the "infinite adjustment" feature, as a tourniquet. The officer 
who suffers a hemorrhaging wound of an extremity can even ap- 
ply it to himself, using his standard stick — or, as a last resort, the 
barrel of his quickly unloaded service revolver — to secure the 
tourniquet. He should then lie down in such a way that the bulk 
of his body holds the stick and tourniquet in place, in case he 
passes out from hemorrhagic shock. The officer who has to give 
himself first aid in this manner should take a pen, preferably a 
Flair™, and write on his forehead or face the letters "TK" and 
the time he applied the tourniquet. This will aid officers and am- 
bulance attendants, who may find him moments after he has 
passed out, and will help them in their first aid efforts. It may 
literally save his life or limb, as it will guide his rescuers in mak- 

Nature of the Weapons 85 

ing the medically delicate decision of leaving or loosening the 

Bar fight Makeshifts 

The officer may find himself in a barroom brawl after entering 
the scene, for one reason or another, without an impact weapon. 
He doesn't feel warranted in using his handgun, but his fists 
alone may not be doing the job for him. The same dilemma may 
confront the off-duty policeman at his neighborhood tavern on 
the wrong night. 

Gin mills, happily, are full of weapons that a seasoned bar- 
fighter can use to save wear and tear on his knuckles. If there's 
a pool table there, make for it: not only will the table give you 
some protection from attack on one side, but the cue sticks are 
extremely effective. Use baton- and bayonet-fighting tactics with 
a cue-stick; swinging the wide end baseball-bat-style delivers awe- 
some power, but it's the first thing your opponent will expect and 
prepare to defend against, or evade. 

Don't neglect those heavy billiard balls. When thrown they are 
brutal-hitting missiles, and when held in your fist like a roll of 
pennies, they give fight-stopping weight to your hands. 

If you find yourself standing at the bar trying to talk a drunk 
into leaving peaceably, let your hand stray toward a beer bottle, 
preferably a full one, for the weight; one with the cap on is 
ideal if you can find it. 

One of the most effective improvised weapons in the saloon en- 
vironment is the heavy cut glass beer mug. If you have a choice, 
grab one that's full. The mug, when grasped as if you were going 
to use it for its intended purpose, becomes a monstrously perfect 
set of "brass knuckles." Its usually octagonal lower edges become 
cutting surfaces, and the weight will easily shatter bones. It will 
almost never break on impact; this means more broken bones but 
fewer lacerations, and less likelihood of injury to the hand of 
the man striking with it. 

The full mug has two advantages: you can throw the contents 
into the face of your attacker or his accomplice, causing momen- 
tary disorientation and surprise; or you can punch with it full 
and let the weight of the liquid add to the effect of the blow. In 

86 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

the latter application, you'll get a spray of liquid all over the 
place, but probably not enough in your eyes to disorient you. It 
may, however, be hard to explain when you get back to head- 
quarters smelling like a brewery. Maybe the watch commander 
will give you the rest of the evening off. 

Never try to hit anyone with a cocktail or whiskey glass in your 
fist. You'll wind up spilling a pint of blood on the barroom floor, 
and possibly severing tendons that will leave you permanently 

A final consideration of the barroom environment comes when 
you have to go hand-to-hand with one of its denizens up at the 
hardwood counter. There are two techniques, taught by the late, 
notorious outlaw martial artist Count Dante (John Keehan), 
that only work on opponents who are sitting on barstools. 

Both are exceedingly simple. One is a punch to the seated 
man's groin; since his weight and probably the back of the bar- 
stool prevent him from moving backward and rolling with the 
blow, shock effect is increased enormously. A blow to the groin in 
stand-up free-fighting doesn't necessarily end the conflict, but this 
one usually does. 

The second, like the first, is simplicity itself: as you approach 
the seated troublemaker, let one foot stray to the nearest leg of 
his barstool. If he hassles you physically, grab him by the collar 
or stick your palm in his face, and push backward while your 
heel hooks the barstool out from under him. The collar-hold is 
best, since it permits you to "let him down easy" without smash- 
ing his head against the floor, while leaving you in control of his 
movement and momentum. If he falls free, he'll probably land 
in a tangle of stool legs, and any hostility that he still offers can 
be safely answered by fast footwork on the officer's part. 

Chapter III 



Patrolman Arthur Lamb of the Boston, Massachusetts Police 
Department is one of perhaps four leading baton instructors 
in the United States, the others being Tak Kubota and Bob Koga 
in Los Angeles, and Lon Anderson, inventor of the Prosecutor 
nightstick. Several schools of thought have arisen about the use 
of impact weapons by the cop on the street. Lamb's system is, by 
far, the most direct and the easiest to master; he considers it a re- 
fined yet simplified method. 

Lamb joined the Boston force in 1959, working primarily 
night shifts on "the wagon." It was a quick, in-depth education 
in violence, since the belligerent subjects being transported often 
chose to duke it out with the wagon patrolmen when the vehicle 
pulled into the lock-up point. 

If you check the records, you'll see that I probably sus- 
tained more injuries than any other patrolman on the force. 
But when I went to the hospital, I usually took two or three 
with me. 

The problem was that we, like virtually all American 
policemen, were being taught outmoded techniques of un- 
armed combat and baton use. They worked great in the 
academy, but weren't practical for the street. With the baton 
in particular, I quickly found that the standard, military 
style moves weren't practical. I found myself having to hit 
a suspect more than I wanted to, because there was no other 
way to subdue him. 
The Lamb Method was born in 1969. Lamb, assigned to a riot 
detail, was confronted with a huge suspect. The man grabbed the 
center of Officer Lamb's baton and dragged him around by it for 

* Reprinted from Trooper, an Organization Services Corp. Publication, by 


88 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

fully fifteen minutes. When it was all over, Lamb went home, 
his mind filled with the thought, "There's got to be a better way." 
He handed his short issue stick to his five-year-old daughter and 
said, "Show me what you'd do with that if somebody was trying 
to hurt you." The little girl immediately brought it overhead and 
smashed downward. "Why did you do that?" her father asked. 
"To hit him over the head," she replied simply. 

"My God," thought Lamb. "This is the technique most of our 
people wind up having to use in the street. If a five-year-old child 
can do it, what have we got?" 

He set about creating a superior stickfighting system for police. 
His years of studying jiujitsu and aikido were called into play, 
as was his extensive experience on the street. Through it all, 
Lamb was mindful of the fact that the average Boston patrol- 
man is not trained extensively in the fighting arts and is often 
older than the person he attempts to arrest, and perhaps not so 
strong or in as good physical shape. 

What emerged was a fighting style equally adaptable to older 
and younger officers. "Give me ten officers 55 or over, and let me 
work with them for a day," says Lamb, "and I'll put them against 
any ten officers under thirty who have been trained intensively 
for a week in the old FBI and 'standard' methods." 

The Lamb method offers several innovative approaches. When 
going into a tight situation, the officer may draw his baton. He 
folds his arms, so that the stick in his right hand is concealed be- 
hind his left tricep. His arms are folded loosely, with the left 
hand lightly over the right bicep. 

If a subject moves in on him, the officer takes a deep step back 
with his left leg. His left hand rises off his bicep and goes into 
a block position, fingers open, about three inches from his left 
temple. Properly executed, the officer's step back has turned his 
right side toward his opponent, so neither back nor front are of- 
fered as targets for blows. The baton remains behind the left 

If the subject continues to move forward, the officer slashes 
downward, toward the knees. Bringing the baton across the body 
in this fashion greatly increases its momentum. If the officer 

Two Classic Baton Approaches 


Figure 43. Arthur Lamb, one of the great masters of police baton training, 
demonstrates several of his principles with a single blow. As suspect moves in, 
he has taken a deep step back with left leg, drawing suspect both off balance 
and into baton range. It is virtually impossible for suspect to block this blow 
to the kneecap. Baton is coming down from Lamb's left armpit out of a low- 
profile, folded arms position. The other hand is up in a position that protects 
head or throat and can swing down to protect diaphragm or groin. 

90 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

feels it necessary, he can follow up by bringing the baton up 
around in a circular motion and striking to the offender's collar- 

After the first or second blow, the officer will step back a few 
feet. As Lamb puts it, this gives the suspect time "to reconsider 
his negative attitude." This, he explains, is unique to his system, 
compared to other styles that require the officer to charge in and 
rain blows on the offender until he is totally incapacitated. 

A blow to the collarbone will probably break it. This 
means that the man's arm and shoulder on that side will 
drop, causing great pain. He will have to reach under his 
armpit with his good hand to try to pull his shoulder back 
into place to reduce the pain. If he attempts to step for- 
ward, the broken bone ends will grate on each other, or tear 
into muscle tissue — nothing that could cause serious in- 
ternal bleeding, but something that will create extreme pain 
with each forward step. At this point, he'll usually decide 
that he's had enough. 
The kneecap blow, says Lamb, will seldom actually break the 

With a wooden baton, the kneecap won't break in nine out 
of ten strikes. It will usually cause enough of a contusion 
that if the man tries to step forward, he will experience 
great pain, or his leg may give way from under him. This is 
why I emphasize that the officer should step back after de- 
livering these blows. It gives the attacker a moment to experi- 
ence the discomfort and realize that any further attack on 
the policeman will be fruitless. This way, the officer con- 
vinces a suspect to give up after one or two blows, instead of 
having to beat him into submission by continuing the baton 
Another advantage of the method is that it is defensive, rather 
than offensive. If media people are watching the confrontation 
and taking pictures, the officer appears to be moving backward 
under the opponent's attack, rather than charging in. 

We've had cases where a demonstrator or rioter would 
punch the policeman in the face, and the officer would re- 

Two Classic Baton Approaches 91 

spond with a baton blow. When it was captured on film, the 
media people would delete the rioter's attack and just pic- 
ture the officer's response, making it look like he was attack- 
ing an innocent person with a club. With my method, the 
officer's step backward forces the attacker to reach toward 
him, and it is at this point that he strikes with the stick. This 
way, a TV camera can't show the officer's blow without also 
showing the suspect's attack, as well. And the tactical advan- 
tage is that it pulls the suspect forward, off balance, in such 
a manner that you can evade his outstretched hands while he 
has at the same time brought his knees into reach of your 
This technique is phase one of the seven that Lamb teaches. 
The others are primarily variations, i.e. deflecting a kick and then 
striking to the support leg, or faking in one direction and then 
striking in the other. 

The Lamb method also has a modification of the standard FBI 
style riot formation. The officers alternate between the method 
described above and the bayonetlike thrusting motion. The cadre 
of officers walking forward and chanting "Move!" (coupled with 
the downward-snapping sweeps of the officers' batons) gives an 
unruly crowd visions of things to come and causes them to swift- 
ly "reconsider their negative attitudes." 

While the method works with almost any conventional stick, 
Lamb favors a 24 inch hickory baton. "Twenty-four inches gives 
enough distance to counteract the element of surprise when the 
officer is attacked," he explains, "while anything longer is too top- 
heavy to swing effectively with one hand. Hickory is a light-medi- 
um wood, giving very fast handling, yet is extremely durable." 
Lamb doesn't care for plastic batons, citing two reasons: "First, 
they're too vulnerable to weather conditions. I've seen them warp 
from being left in the sun in a patrol car, and I've seen them 
break when taken into a warm room after being out in the cold 
all night, and then rapped against something. Second, I find them 
too heavy for fast movement, at least for the majority of 
veteran officers. The weight of the weapon controls you, rather 
than you controlling it." 

92 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

He also teaches the use of the sap with the Lamb method, the 
basic difference being that the officer steps forward instead of 
back before he strikes, to compensate for the shortness of the 

There are no jabbing or thrusting techniques in the Lamb 
method. He feels that they can be too dangerous, since they are 
directed toward potentially vulnerable points in the body. "An 
upward jab to the solar plexus won't just take the wind out of 
a man," he says, "it may also rupture his heart. Jabs to liver, 
kidneys, or groin may cause permanent injury." 

He finds another shortcoming in the two-handed jabs taught 
in many police baton classes. "They're based on the military tech- 
nique of bayonet fighting. The trouble is, someone who tries to 
grab a soldier's bayonet gets his hand cut off, but a violent suspect 
who grabs the front of a police baton carried in the same way 
can easily tie up the officer's arms, twist the weapon away, or turn 
it against the officer with a strike to groin or head." 

He likewise has no use for come-alongs or armlocks that use 
the baton as a fulcrum. "The gun has a purpose," he says. "It's 
to shoot armed criminals with. You don't turn it around in your 
hand and hit people with it. It's the same with the baton: its pur- 
pose is to strike blows, not to try to wrap people's arms around. 
Most grappling techniques leave the officer dangerously open. I 
teach my men to do their come-alongs and hold-downs with their 
hands, not with sticks." 

Lamb doesn't like straps on batons. 

That's a hold-over from the military baton tactics. You 
needed something wrapped around your hand so that when 
you jabbed into some's midriff, your hand wouldn't slide for- 
ward over the instrument. Some officers think they need it to 
keep hold of their baton, but if they use my method, no- 
body is going to get their hands on it to take it away. The 
strap can catch on things: more than one officer has been 
hurt because he reached for his baton when attacked, only 
to find that it was hanging by its strap on the door handle of 
his car a block away. And too many officers develop the habit 
of tying the strap to their baton ring. What are they going 

Two Classic Baton Approaches 93 

to do when someone throws a punch at them? Say, "Wait a 
second, I have to untie this leather thong here"? 
I asked Lamb about some of the other police impact weapons 
that are coming into vogue. 

Nunchakus, which some police are authorized to carry, are 
definitely not suitable for police. They are too violent, and 
too hard to master. The average police officer would have a 
very difficult time learning to control a set of nunchuks. The 
yawara sticks, or "judo sticks" or "persuaders," are again a 
martial arts weapon designed to kill or maim rather than to 
control and subdue. They work best when striking to the 
vital parts of the body. I was taught to use a yawara by in- 
serting it into my attacker's mouth and twisting, thus ripping 
out the entire inside of his mouth. Also, some judo sticks 
have sharp ends to prevent their being taken away from the 
officer and can therefore cause severe lacerations when you 
hit someone with them. t 

The Prosecutor baton is based on using old techniques 
with a stick that has a handle on it. It is great for come-alongs, 
but I don't think come-alongs are the province of the police 

Loaded sap gloves are prohibited in many departments. 
They work best if a man is using a two-handed FBI-style 
baton technique, because they prevent his hand from being 
damaged if the suspect strikes at the baton with a bludgeon. 
However, one of the basic principles that I teach is that the 
baton is only for unarmed subjects. If the attacker has a 
weapon, the officer should use his firearm. The officer who 
thinks he can disarm a knife-man with a baton is kidding 
himself. With all my training in the baton and the martial 
arts, I can take a knife away nine out of ten times in the 
gym. But that tenth time, I'll be killed. 

We have the heavy-duty flashlights being quasi-accepted as 
batons, and the nightsticks with Mace, and all that, but I 
think that gets away from the basic purpose of the police 
baton: to strike an unarmed person attacking a police officer, 

94 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

and to do so in a manner that stops the attack without seri- 
ously injuring the suspect. 
Lamb emphasizes that an officer using a stick or club should 
always avoid going to the head. 

I've trained over 200 police departments, comprising over 
ten thousand men. In every class, I ask the officers if they've 
ever seen a subject subdued with one blow to the head. None 
of them ever have. What you're doing when you hit a man 
in the head is first, creating a serious danger of death, and 
second, you're numbing the one part of the body that can 
stop him. If you use my method with one or two strikes and 
step back, he realizes that the thing has gone against him, 
and the confrontation is over. But if you hit him in the head 
and put him into a state of shock where he is almost im- 
mune to pain, and now enraged beyond reason, the only 
thing left for you to do is beat him into the ground. This is 
why so many police brutality charges came about when ba- 
tons were used the old-fashioned way. 
Lamb has made a training film in which a police surgeon states 
that the blows taught in the Lamb method are the most humane. 
It is useful in courtrooms, and Lamb is available to testify as an 
expert witness for any officer using his method who is accused of 
excessive force. Integral to the Lamb method is a quick-release 
baton holder of his own design. 

The method can be learned quickly. A three-hour lecture on 
baton handling, including films, followed by a one-hour workout 
usually leaves the officer capable of defending himself well with 
his baton. It is particularly suited to in-service training of vet- 
eran officers, since it does not require a young man's strength or 
agility (Lamb is 42, which he states is the average age of Boston 
policemen), and because of the short time needed to master the 
few moves. Sophisticated methods like those taught to LAPD- 
men take many hours of basic training with frequent refreshers. 

Lamb may not be teaching much longer. "I've been in the 
Academy for several years," he told me, "and even though it's a 
satisfying job, it's not what I joined the police department to do. 
I'm thinking of transferring back to the street." 

Two Classic Baton Approaches 95 

If he does, Boston toughs who run across him would do well 
to "reconsider their negative attitudes" hefore they mess with the 
slightly built, soft-spoken patrolman. 


The so-called "LAPD" method encompasses the techniques of 
two of that department's baton instructors, Robert Koga and 
Takayuki Kubota, both highly accomplished martial artists with 
extensive background in large-scale police training. 

The Koga and Kubota methods are quite similar. Both empha- 
size one- and two-handed jabbing techniques, and the employ- 
ment of the baton for armlocks, come-alongs, and other grap- 
pling maneuvers. 

They also share the fact that they're built around the "LAPD 

Figure 44. Koga- and Kubota-style draw-toa-strike is swift, natural, and 
powerful, though not as potent as some other jabs with the straight stick. 
This basic technique should be a part of every officer's repertoire of stick- 
fighting techniques. 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

baton" (widely known as the Koga Baton), a simple, lightweight 
26 inch stick, with neither grappling rings nor thong, but only a 
rubber grommet two thirds of the way up the stick for conve- 
nient belt-ring carry. Also emphasized is the draw with the weak 
hand for instant access. Both are predicated on extensive training 
with frequent refreshers; Los Angeles Police Department, always 
in the vanguard of progressive law enforcement, has one of the 
best and most intensive baton training programs in the world, 
both basic and in-service. 

The LAPD system has many good points: blocking techniques 
that reinforce the arm and may be applied quickly and instinc- 
tively with one hand (see Fig. 44); one of the fastest of all 
baton draws, whether the stick is drawn to a block or to a strike; 
and a number of effective, "low profile" maneuvers which effec- 
tively break down violent resistance to arrest without creating the 
appearance of brutality. 

Figure 45. Included in the basic straight-stick repertoire is a draw-to-a-block 
from the weak hand side. 

Two Classic Baton Approaches 


A trademark of Kubota in particular is what I call the "under- 
hand flip." It is one of the few blows that may be safely deliv- 
ered to the groin, which is an ideal target for it. There is little 
impetus but the weight of the light stick itself and the officer's 
wrist action. A deliberately "weak" technique, it will stun when 
delivered to the groin, without crushing or tearing tissue and 
leaving the suspect sexually crippled or in danger of death from 
traumatic shock. 

However, because the flip causes the weapon to strike at a mo- 
ment when it is held only between thumb and forefinger, it can 
be dangerous for an officer who is not highly skilled and prac- 
ticed with this technique. If the blow misses, the stick can easily 
be torn away from the policeman; a forceful flip with a heavy 
plastic baton may cause the stick to fly out of the hand by its own 
momentum. This aspect of the LAPD technique should be used 

Figure 46. Basic two-hand thrust with straight stick can be done bayonet-style 
as shown or with a "pool-cue" motion. The latter technique has greater speed 
and quicker recovery but less impact. 

98 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

only with the light LAPD style baton, though most of the rest of 
the Koga and Kubota repertoire is quite adaptable to heavier 

The underhand flip, in close quarters, is visible only to the 
combatants, one aspect of the system's low profile. Another is 
that the one-handed jab — in which only a small portion of the 
stick extends outward from the officer's hands, the rest being un- 
der the forearm, reinforcing both the limb and the blow — to 
many observers will look like a simple jab of the hand rather 
than the blow of a "club" (see Fig. 46). 

The one-handed jabs of Kubota and Koga are the most effec- 
tive that can be used with the straight stick, exceeded only by the 
short jab with the Prosecutor. While a one-handed jab delivered 
with a standard nightstick held at the knurled base-end can easily 
injure the officer's wrist upon impact, due to the violent shock 
when the stick meets resistance, this is unlikely with the LAPD 
jab, and force is magnified by the fact that the stick is rein- 
forced by the forearm. This also causes the blow to "penetrate" 
much more effectively. 

Leverage is equally enhanced with the two-handed techniques 
of the LAPD system, especially those used in very close quarters, 
with the officer's elbows close to his body (Fig. 47). Kubota's 
backward strike against an attack from the rear is one of the 
most potent blows in stickfighting (Fig. 48). 

Armlocks, etc. are effective, but for the most part, extremely 
difficult to put into play. Kubota's book {Baton Techniques and 
Training, Springfield, Thomas, 1974) shows many techniques 
that are potentially fatal, and therefore should be used cautious- 
ly. Many of his techniques for arm restraint are for "experts 
only" in that they require hand positions to be changed frequent- 
ly on the stick, something that demands finely honed timing and 
deep experience. Any attempt to pin a suspect's arm with a baton- 
lock should be undertaken only when the suspect has been caught 
by surprise, or his arm numbed by a blow of the stick. Tak 
Kubota can easily tie up an able-bodied man in a baton hold — 
but Tak Kubota is a karate professional and baton instructor. 
None but the most highly stick-trained street policeman could 
remotely hope to equal him. 


Two Classic Baton Approaches 


The most effective grappling techniques remain those of the 
FBI system, of the Prosecutor, and to a lesser extent, of the 

Footwork is emphasized heavily in the LAPD system. This is 

Figure 47. One advantage of the standard baton ring is that when attacked 
from behind the officer can deliver extremely powerful two-hand jab to as- 
sailant's midsection without removing stick from belt. 

Property of 
Orangeburg, South Carolina 

Figure 48a. A variation of Koga straight-stick method is demonstrated in this 
sequence. From the low-profile ready position the officer can block or attack. 

Figure 48b. The officer can slash with either hand to deflect punches. 

Tiuo Classic Baton Approaches 


Figure 48c. He can use Koga-style two-hand jab. 

Figure 48d. He can instantly block a kick. 

102 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

one reason that it is most effective in departments like LAPD, 
which devote substantial time to impact weapons training. 

Even for the officer who does not wish to ascribe completely to 
the tenets of Koga and Kubota, their systems have much that is 
of value with any type of stick, in any stickfighting situation. 
Even the officer who chooses eclectically to take the best of each 
fighting system and adapt it to his own use, and the officer who 
has limited time to practice, would do well to adopt the one- and 
two-handed jabs and the quick weak-hand draw of the LAPD 
system. These techniques integrate easily and naturally with those 
from other impact weapons systems. 

Koga and Kubota differ on techniques; Koga's is the more sim- 
plified (and has been trimmed even further of late, with some 
of the techniques in his early book having been dropped in his 
current teachings); Kubota is more into subtleties and complex 
maneuvers. Of the two, Koga's is by far the more adaptable style 
for police, and the most influential, though the officer who is into 
impact weapons will want to be familiar with both. Koga is also 
notable for some of the best insights into the psychology of fac- 
ing the violent offender, and of psyching oneself up to coping 
with the heavier aspects of law enforcement. 

Chapter IV 


When a street punk attacks a cop with a club, it's assault with 
a deadly weapon. Yet some police academy instructors tell 
their trainees that using that same instrument against an un- 
armed suspect is merely an exercise of prerogative. 

It is and it isn't, and if it is, no one who understands the 
reality of street law enforcement can say it's wrong. The citizen 
who uses a club to defend himself against a bar-fighter must use 
only enough force to drive the person away or stop the assaidt. 
A cop, by the very nature of his duties, has to do more than that: 
He must overwhelm his opponent to the extent that the latter is 
subdued and ready for shipment to the nearest lockup. 

In real life, a vicious brawler has to be hit harder to be sub- 
dued than to be merely driven out of punching range. 

I have witnessed police self-defense instructors who told their 
rookies, and even their veteran in-service students, "If a man 
even reaches for your badge or sticks his finger against your chest, 
he's committing assault on a police officer, and you're justified in 
using your baton to club him into submission." 

Sometimes, in some places, you can get away with that. You get 
away with it because the people who pick fights with cops tend to 
be ignorant punks with little sociofinancial power, people who 
are unlikely to take you effectively to court. 

Contrast that doctrine with the one that governs the use of 
deadly force in self-defense: "You or another innocent party 
must be in immediate and unavoidable danger of death or grave 
bodily harm" if you are to be justified in taking a criminal's life. 
The few remaining state statutes that allow the peace officer to 
kill to terminate pursuit of a non-deadly felon can be disregard- 
ed; the trend nationwide is to eliminate the right of police to kill 
to prevent a felon's escape if life does not hang in the balance. 


104 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

There is every reason to believe that this trend will soon be uni- 
versal policy. 

The risky part of this is deciding where a weapon the police 
consider non-lethal or less-lethal stands when statutes consider the 
same instrument to be fully lethal when wielded by someone 
who doesn't have a badge. 

The impact weapon cannot be truly compared with other less- 
lethal weapons, that is, with chemical agents. Several deaths are 
on record from CN, the mildest tear gas; CS is possibly even 
more dangerous in some respects, though few if any deaths due 
to its inhalation have been recorded. The majority of CN deaths 
involve (a) victims with heart or pulmonary conditions who were 
unable to tolerate the impairment of the breathing process and 
sometimes (b) abuse by officers of the CN substance, as in cases 
where officers held a suspect in a headlock and sprayed large 
amounts of CN aerosol directly into his mouth and nose. 

The baton is on different grounds. Though there are no com- 
plete statistics available, few would doubt that more suspects 
have died over the years from nightstick or blackjack blows than 
from being "Maced." 

The stick will normally kill the same way the Mace-type sub- 
stance will: only when it has been grossly overapplied or when 
the subject has an unusually weak tolerance for the type of 
trauma it inflicts. In the same way an asthmatic can succumb 
from inhaling CN, a cardiac patient with hardening of the 
arteries who is choked out by a baton hold applied to his carotids 
can die from heart attack, stroke, or ruptured blood vessels. 

The real question is, "When does a cop use his impact weap- 
on" and it cannot be answered categorically. Local differences in 
theory and training are too far apart. The officer who has been 
instructed to use his stick only against multiple opponents or 
those armed with clubs or knives stands to be successfully prose- 
cuted for excessive force if he injures a barehanded suspect. The 
officer who has been trained to use his stick against anyone who 
so much as grabs at his badge has the advantage of having acted 
in good faith in accordance with what he was taught by the gov- 
ernment agency that employs him. 

Parameters of Lethal and "Less Lethal" Force 105 

There is a dearth of classic cases in the legal library's citations. 
Justifiable homicide with a gun is easier to determine, because 
there are so many more definitive court precedents. Injuries in- 
flicted with the baton constitute a grey area: more will depend on 
surrounding circumstances than in almost any other type of ex- 
cessive force charge levelled against the police officer. 

You have perhaps realized by now that you aren't going to get 
a definite guideline, because none exists. 

My advice to the police weapons instructor or command officer 
reading this would be to consult the departmental legal counsel 
or the city, county, or state prosecuting attorney's office. Send 
them a letter that states your uncertainty over the status of the 
law, and ask for definitive guidelines as to when and how the 
police impact weapon may be used to subdue a suspect. 

Their reply should be circulated verbatim to all officers in the 
department. It may not be a 100 percent legal guarantee of safe- 
ty for an officer who acts within these guidelines and is still 
charged with excessive force, but it performs the important 
function of establishing good faith on the part of the officer 
who swings the club. He can truthfully state in court that he acted 
on the basis of guidelines made known to him by the highest 
legal authorities in the hierarchy in which he works, and this 
alone may be enough to absolve him from civil, personal liabili- 
ty. The suit may then become a legal assault against the depart- 
ment, and the "doctrine of sovereign immunity" may or may not 
win out against the plaintiffs. But being able to quote a highly 
authoritative source when the officer says, "I did what I was told 
I could and should do," will frequently soften the blow of an 
excessive force charge and may ward it off entirely. 

The individual officer at the street level may feel uncomforta- 
ble taking the above approach. If the county attorney, or who- 
ever, calls the chief about the patrolman's letter, the officer may 
be called on the carpet and asked, "Since when do you have the 
right to go over your supervisors' heads and try to establish de- 
partment policy?" 

Another danger exists, which isn't as paranoiac as it may sound 
at first. The officer who has bought this book for himself has 

] 06 Modern Police Impart Weapons 

probably done so because he works the street and perhaps has 
been in situations where he had to use his stick and wasn't sure 
of the outcome next time. He is the individual most likely to use 
his stick again, and perhaps the best candidate for an excessive 
force charge, however unjust. The opposition attorney may well 
put him on the stand next time, wave a copy of his letter, and 
ask, "Why were you the only officer in the department who want- 
ed the attorney general to tell you it was all right to hit people 
with your baton under certain circumstances? How long did you 
plan the set-up in which you beat up my client? The very fact 
that you wrote this letter is obvious proof that you are obsessed 
with the idea of hitting people with your nightstick. . . ." 

An instructor or superior officer can get away with the simple 
letter outlined above that asks for a definite guideline on baton 
use. A line officer who does the same may possibly get himself into 
more trouble than he hoped the correspondence could someday 
get him out of. 

Degree of force permissible in making various kinds of arrest 
is something that is determined at the state level. The statute 
book of your state is the first thing you want to consult. Next, 
head for a good legal library; big cities usually have them, and 
there is a state legal library in virtually every state capitol. Spend 
a day or so there. While these facilities are used almost exclusive- 
ly by attorneys and law students, they are open to the public, and 
the librarians will help you find what you're looking for. 

The best starting reference is the complete Warren on Homi- 
cide. This gives the best and quickest grounding in the concepts 
of equal and necessary force, disparity of force, and related 
concepts that will, in the courtroom, apply just as much to the 
use of batons in the line of duty as to the use of service 

With the legal librarian's assistance, you can look up relevant 
case citations. Begin with those in your state, since that is obvious- 
ly the most important, but don't stop there: if you're sued and 
the proceedings go into superior courts, decisions from other 
states will be brought in as precedents. 

If a trip to a state or university legal library is not feasible for 
you, talk with your own family or police union attorney. He 

Parameters of Lethal and "Less Lethal" Force 107 

probably has Warren on Homicide and most certainly has the 
right citation references in his own ofiice library. Ask for reading 
privileges, and after you've digested what he's got on the book- 
shelves, ask him if he'll spend a little time with you explaining 
your questions. He'll probably do it for free. Committed profes- 
sionals like to dispense their understanding to people who can 
use their advice meaningfully, and a good attorney will sit down 
for a short time with a cop and explain what he needs to know, 
just as a good doctor will volunteer his time to train ambulance 
attendants in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. 

Another excellent source is the chief self-defense instructor at 
the nearest State Police academy. This individual works rather 
closely with the state's lawmakers and is paid to stay up to date 
on the kind of legal decisions and judicial climates that we're 
talking about. When you talk to him, however, get references 
and citations; if he is moved up and/or out of his position be- 
tween the time you speak with him and the time you have to use 
his advice in a hearing room, your memory of the conversation 
may not be enough. If he is agreeable to committing something 
to writing, by all means ask him for a letter explaining what he 
has told you about the parameters of using the force of the po- 
lice impact weapon in your region. If things do come down to 
the courtroom, incidentally, he will generally be considered an 
expert witness who can testify in your behalf, or for an officer 
you have trained who has done what you told him he could and 
should do and is still being charged with going beyond where he 
should have. 

We could talk about grey areas, and thin ice, and narrow 
ledges, but it Avould all come down to the fact that no real, 
broadly accepted guideline exists insofar as the policeman's use 
of his impact weapon in controlling violent or potentially violent 
suspects. He cannot make his own rules; what he must do is learn 
for himself what rules there are in his state, his community, and 
his judicial system, all of which may judge him when he draws 
his baton and thus wields the symbol of his profession as a 
keeper of the peace against those who choose to violently disturb 

Chapter V 



In the Police Vehicle 

Any impact weapon 18 inches or longer presents a problem for 
the mobile patrol officer who spends much of his duty tour 
getting in and out of his squad car. The cruiser driver constantly 
slams his door shut on his stick; the man in the shotgun seat finds 
himself having to use his left hand to sweep the baton up paral- 
lel to his leg as he sits down, a gesture that is awkward to per- 
form in a hurry and amusingly reminiscent of a prim lady 
smoothing her skirts as she takes a seat. 

There are two alternatives. First, the officer may take the baton 
out of its belt holder each time he enters the squad car and put 
it back on each time he steps out, but this creates its own set of 
problems. When he emerges from the vehicle and thrusts the ba- 
ton securely into his belt ring, observing citizens, logically 
enough, see his routine movements as an ominous and threaten- 
ing gesture. More important from a tactical standpoint, slipping 
the stick into the ring distracts the officer's attention at a moment 
when he should be concentrating totally on the situation he has 
stopped for. Second, the majority of American police simply 
leave the full-size impact weapon in the vehicle, breaking it out 
only during emergencies. The problem with this is that a violent 
confrontation may not be predictable: The officer who leaves the 
baton in the car when he makes a routine stop may miss it sorely 
when the subject turns out to be a cop-fighter. 

This situation is one of the stronger arguments for the police 
nunchaku, and for the short billies, saps, and blackjacks that are 
compact enough to be worn constantly with no discomfort or 
awkwardness of movement. It is an equally strong argument for 
departments to issue or authorize two impact weapons, one to be 


Practical Applications and Considerations 


Figure 49. An unconventional method o£ carrying impact weapon "in the 
vehicle." Boston mounted patrolmen all carry batons behind saddles. Mount- 
ed police are an invaluable asset in riot control situations. 

worn constantly, and another, high performance stick to be avail- 
able when the officer is going into situations he knows to be po- 
tentially violent. 

Nevertheless, the majority of radio car officers will continue to 

1 10 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

carry their primary impact weapons in the vehicle most of the 
time, drawing them only when they feel superior, non-lethal 
physical force will imminently be needed. Such officers should 
follow these maxims. 

Keep the stick in one accessible place! There will never be 
time to fumble under the car seat for the baton, nor to open 
the trunk and withdraw it when going into a barfight or domestic 
disturbance. The job requires that the officer respond with all 
possible haste; he'll look foolish and lose valuable time searching 
for his stick. 

Keep it where non-police occupants will not have access to 
it! It is common for officers to allow traffic violators, drunk 
drivers, and some varieties of "street people" in the front seat of 
the police car with them as they fill out preliminary reports. 
When an apparently harmless drunk turns vicious, the officer 
doesn't want him to have a club within reach. Yet this is the case 
if the stick is on the dashboard, under a front-seat headrest, or 
on the seat next to the officer. 

There are safer places to put the impact weapon, while keep- 
ing it accessible. A Monadnock door carrier or equivalent will 
keep the baton instantly accessible to the driver, yet out of reach 
of anyone in the passenger seat. In some model cars, the stick can 
be kept between the driver's door and the edge of the seat, held 
in place by the seat adjustment lever. Prosecutor batons and 
Koga-style batons with the rubber grommets are especially secure 
in this position. Since the shapes of both sticks and seat adjust- 
ment latches vary, the officer should make sure that he can carry 
his baton in his squad car without the possibility of a carelessly 
watched suspect in the back seat getting hold of it. 

The headrest carry is convenient but has a number of little 
known disadvantages. First, the headrest must be kept down: an 
officer who wants maximum comfort is liable to put his stick un- 
der the passenger-side headrest, where it will be more accessible 
to a suddenly violent suspect in the front seat than to the officer 
himself. Also, the pressure of the headrest, combined with in- 
tense heat when the car is left out in the sun for a period of 
time, has been known to warp some plastic batons into a shape 
resembling the vital parts of a rocking chair. 

Practical Applications and Considerations 111 

One exception to these safety hazards is the Prosecutor baton. 
Carried with the handle on the left side of the driver's headrest, 
it cannot possibly be grabbed by anyone anywhere else in the car, 
yet it is in a natural position for the officer to quickly and 
smoothly remove it as he steps out. 

Another option exists for officers who carry shotguns in "boot" 
cases that run across the lower edge of the front seat. A baton 
kept there (above the shotgun) is handy to get out and doesn't 
interfere witli the removal of the shotgun itself. The stick will 
not mar the finish of the gun, though the sharp metal corners of 
the shotgun will soon scar up both wooden and plastic batons. 

On the Person, In Uniform 

It is unfortunately true that longer sticks are both more effec- 
tive and more uncomfortable. The ideal 22-26 inch length can be 
awkward for many officers to carry constantly on foot patrol. 

In some parts of the country, it is routine and traditional to 
carry the full-length stick on the duty belt at all times. Elsewhere, 
though, the officer carrying a baton on routine patrol will often 
be eluded, "Hey, I didn't know we were expecting a riot!" 

There are two methods of carry: the ubiquitous baton ring, 
and breakaway units typified by the Lamb-style baton carrier sold 
by Smith & Wesson (S&W). 

Described elsewhere, the Lamb "speed rig" has many advan- 
tages for the officer who carries a straight stick. The weapon is 
almost totally inaccessible to opponents, and a suspect who has 
grabbed the baton while on the belt and is jerking the officer 
around by it can be "cut loose" with a flick of the officer's finger 
as lie releases the whole unit from his belt. It can be drawn from 
quickly with either hand and, with the cross-draw strong hand re- 
lease, comes out in a powerful swing directed toward the sus- 
pect's legs. Annoying "side-slap" when walking is reduced. The 
design discourages "headhunting" blows. 

Lost, however, are the quick, surprise weak-hand draws of the 
Koga and Kubota methods, in which the stick is carried in a belt- 
hung ring. Most rings also snap on and off the belt, while the 
SfcW breakaway unit requires the duty belt to be removed and the 
carrier slid on. Monadnock makes a carrier with a ring that re- 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 50. Lamb designed breakaway baton carrier. Courtesy of Smith & 

Practical Applications and Considerations 113 

mains outward from the belt when the stick is drawn, allowing 
a one-handed return of the weapon to the belt, by feel, without 
taking one's eyes off the suspect. It is, in my opinion, the baton 
ring of choice, and should be ordered in the quickly removable 
double-snap version. The same company makes a breakaway rig 
similar to S&W's Lamb carrier, but there have been some failures 
with the design, and the Lamb-style by S&W should be the choice 
if the policeman opts for a high-security breakaway baton 

Choice of belt-carrying system will depend on the stick-fighting 
system the user favors, but Monadnock seems to be the best 
choice in rings, S&W the best in a breakfront style. Policemen of 
average height or less often find that a 24 inch stick hangs to 
knee level and impairs their motion when running. I prefer to 
carry sticks of this length, including the Prosecutor, with the 
stiff-looped baton ring inverted, that is, with the ring at the top 
edge of the duty belt instead of the bottom. In this way, the stick 
clears kneecaps and car doors much better, swings around less 
when walking, and is every bit as fast for a Koga or Kubota style 
draw, or a Prosecutor draw-to-a-block. 

The nunchaku has always been difficult to carry. It will snag in 
the conventional ring, and because of its length, will often pro- 
trude awkwardly from the sap pocket. Some officers sling them 
over their holsters, a dangerous practice that impairs access to 
both the gun and the sticks. Monadnock makes the PN-H, a plas- 
tic swivel nunchaku holder, but the several I have tested have 
proven unsatisfactory because the swivelled section tends to give 
under the weight of the top-heavy nunchuks when carried, as 
they should be, butt upwards. Any exertion on the officer's part 
can cause the swivel to turn in a manner that will drop the sticks 
on the ground, and they are not kept in a constant position. I 
would like to see this holder modified with a snap-fastener that 
would allow the officer to solidly fix the swivel in one of two or 
three positions, like the better quality swivel holsters for service 
guns. Until then, a deepened and reinforced side pants pocket is 
the best choice for uniform carry. Some martial arts supply 


Modern Police Imparl Weapons 

Figure 51a. PR-24 is normally drawn to a strike from this handle-back 

houses make excellent "nunchaku holsters," but none currently 
are suitable in appearance for police uniform wear. 

Worn undercover (the nunchaku is the most potent of con- 
cealable impact weapons) the best carry is inside the waistband 

Practical Applications and Considerations 


Figure 51b. It can also be drawn to a block from handle-forward carry, whicli 
is more comfortable when worn constantly in the patrol car. 

with the twin butts pointing forward, and one further out of 
the belt than the other. This allows a super fast draw-and-strike 
that hits with tremendous force and takes an attacker quite by 
surprise. It is equally effective on the strong or weak side and 
should be carried opposite the sidearm. It is quite concealable 

116 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

and, with a little practice, very comfortable. Wear trousers with 
ban-roll waistbands, and you won't have to worry about the sticks 
slipping around. 

Some detectives who carry nunchuks but aren't terribly fa- 
miliar with them sling one stick down a coat sleeve and leave the 
other swinging free inside, with the cord securing the weapon in 
the armpit of the jacket. This not only binds the arm, but makes 
for a slow and feeble draw-and-strike. It should be avoided but 
watched for, since a lot of street people carry nunchakus in just 
this way. 

Ironically, though the Monadnock PN-H holder is not terribly 
functional for the nunchuks it was designed to carry, it is per- 
haps the best carrying system for an "impact weapon" the com- 
pany doesn't produce: the heavy duty, "D"-cell flashlight. The 
size is just right, and the flashlight switch clears the plastic ring 
and won't accidentally flick on the way a "C"-cell flashlight will 
when carried in the baton ring. (Note: the officer who does 
choose to carry a "C'-cell torch as combination light and impact 
weapon should take advantage of the optional rubber grommets, 
as offered on Safariland's Baton-Lite series of Kel-Lites, to pre- 
vent that accidental switch turn-on.) 

The PN-H, unlike most leather flashlight holders, can be 
drawn from silently and with maximum speed, as there are no 
snaps to release. Since the protruding part of the instrument is 
a flashlight's short head rather than a nunchaku's long butt ends, 
the light can't fall out by accident and will always be in the same 
place for a quick, instinctive "draw by feel." Even when the 
policeman takes a spill, the combination of the swivel and the 
preponderance of weight under the retaining ring will usually 
keep the flashlight from falling out. Since the semisoft plastic 
ring retains its shape, the officer can quickly and easily return the 
flashlight to the belt by feel without averting his eyes from a 

The yawara stick is best carried in pocket or waistband. Its 
nominal girth makes the latter position quite comfortable, and 
a rubber band looped snugly around it will prevent the "per- 
suader" from sliding down out of reach. 

Practical Applications and Considerations 117 

The Prosecutor should only be carried in the special Monad- 
nock ring with a vertical stud that prevents the handle from slid- 
ing around, whether the officer chooses to carry the stick in the 
handle-forward position for draw-to-a-block, or the handle-rear 
position for draw-to-a-spin-strike. 

The officer who carries a standard stick in a standard ring will 
need something to hold the baton in place vertically, either a 
thong or a grommet. The pros and cons of the thong are dis- 
cussed elsewhere. Rubber grommets take nothing away from the 
handling of the stick and are completely secure. The officer who 
wishes to acquire a grommet for his present straight stick can 
simply buy a black rubber crutch-tip in a drugstore and cut out 
the end. 

Saps and blackjacks are normally carried in the hip pocket or 
the special sap pocket sewn into most standard police uniform 
trousers. Some patrolmen like to carry a small one in the deep 
side pocket of a winter reefer coat. They can have it in their 
hand when confronting a suspect whose potential belligerence is 
uncertain; the officer appears to be standing casually with hands 
in pockets, yet can bring his impact weapon quickly into play. 

Belt Carriers for Impact Weapons 

While saps, jacks, yawaras and similar compact weapons may 
be carried in the hip or "sap" pocket, the police impact weapon 
is normally slung on the belt. Standard is a metal ring hanging 
from a leather loop. 

Unless the officer is required to carry a cross-draw holster, the 
baton ring is normally on his left side if he is right-handed, 
vice-versa if he's left-handed. This carry lends itself to the Ku- 
bota and Koga style draw-to-a-block or draw-to-a-strike techniques 
with the weak hand. The Prosecutor, worn in a similar carrier 
but with a stud on the ring to keep the handle from turning, can 
be carried with the handle toward the rear for a draw-to-a-strike 
motif, or with handle forward, lending itself to drawing-to-a- 
block. The latter will wear more comfortably. 

Nunchaku sticks are best carried in the Monadnock nunchaku 
holder; while not ideal, this unit keeps the sticks in a position 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 52. Impact weapon belt carriers: (left to right) excellent breakaway 
style designed by Lamb and produced by Smith &: Wesson Leather; snap-on 
Monadnock with stud for PR-24 handle (snap-on feature turns baton ring 
into an extra belt keeper) — similar unit can be inverted so a 24 inch baton 
won't interfere with leg motion yet can be drawn as quickly; special "Ayoob 
style" for PR-24 available from Monadnock on special order — for straight 
baton the standard unit is simply inverted; Monadnock's nunchaku carrier is 
at its best carrying a Kel-Lite police flashlight in D-cell size, permitting secure 
carry and instant, silent draw. 

quickly accessible to either hand. Unfortunately, those produced 
to date are too loose in the swivel; running or other activity may 
cause the nunchuks to turn upside down and fall out. The 
Monadnock nunchaku holder does, however, make an ideal 
"silent-draw" belt carrier for long "D"-cell flashlights. 

The conventional "nightstick" is normally carried on a baton 
ring. This arrangement is excellent if the baton is to be used 
Kubota style; a cross-draw, however, encourages the officer to 
swing his stick up, out, and down in an arc resembling that of a 
samurai's sword as he beheads an opponent. This instinctive 
"headhunting" aspect of the baton ring was one factor that led 
Arthur Lamb to design the breakfront baton carrier we'll exam- 
ine shortly. 

An item to avoid is the slip-on baton ring, sewn in a permanent 
loop, which can be detached only by removing the belt. If a cop- 

Practical Applications and Considerations 119 

fighter grabs the "holstered" baton, he has great leverage with 
which to pull the policeman off his feet. Better is the kind that 
is snap-detachable: If someone is jerking the policeman back- 
wards by grabbing his baton, the officer need only unsnap the 
baton ring with a flick of his finger. He regains his balance, and 
the offender very possibly loses his. 

This breakaway feature is an important part of the Lamb 
baton carrier design. The tactic, however, poses an interesting 
question: since the felon is now armed with a deadly weapon 
(the police impact weapon can easily become a murderous bludg- 
eon in irresponsible hands), the officer must now draw his side- 
arm. If he is forced to shoot the suspect, the admittedly remote 
possibility exists that he might be accused of furnishing the sus- 
pect with a weapon so he would have an excuse to blast him. 
Perhaps the court will believe you when you tell them simply that 
the suspect tore the club from your belt. 

The unique Lamb design has two other excellent features that 
have endeared it to police across the country and abroad. First, 
it is virtually "snatchproof" in the same sense as the Bianchi or 
Bucheimer-Clark breakfront holster: only a person familiar with 
its use will be likely to extract the weapon from it. There is a 
thumb-break similar to the safety straps used on many police 
holsters, located inconspicuously between the belt and the baton 
on the Lamb carrier. While the officer can release it instinctively 
and instantaneously, a cop-fighter most probably cannot. 

What may be the most important design aspect of the Lamb 
carrier, currently produced by Smith &: Wesson Leather, is that it 
is virtually impossible to draw the weapon out through the top 
as with a standard baton ring. Lamb's intention was to make it 
difficult for an officer reacting through reflex to swing the club 
at the suspect's head. The snap-out design, instead, lends itself 
ideally to a downward sweep across the opponent's shin or knee- 
cap. An added bonus is that the slight resistance of the baton 
carrier means that the stick comes out with a little more momen- 
tum. This is important with the light hickory batons recommend- 
ed by Lamb and sold with this unit by Smith & Wesson. 

Many officers wearing the Lamb-style outfit also report that the 

120 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

baton tends to bounce around less on the hip during walking 
than it would with a standard ring, since the leather is snugly 
wrapped around a few inches of the stick. The Lamb/ Smith & 
Wesson breakaway baton carrier will fit many other sticks, includ- 
ing some heavy plastic ones, and is perhaps the ideal system for 
the officer who cross-draws his baton with his strong hand and 
does not use Kubota or Koga stickfighting methods. 


Departmental policies on use and show of force vary, and 
where they do exist in definite form, should be followed by the 
officer who wishes to keep his pension. If he feels those rules are 
too restrictive, his only alternative is to approach danger situa- 
tions with extra caution and hope that he manages to eventually 
collect that pension. 

There are, likewise, regional differences in the feelings of the 
public and the law enforcement community toward officers han- 
dling batons. Few Californians would raise an eyebrow if they 
looked in their rear-view mirror during a traffic stop and saw a 
lawman thrusting his baton into his belt as he stepped from his 
patrol car. They know it is standard procedure. But that driver's 
cousin in Iowa would be appalled to see a trooper there do the same 
and would probably write in anger to the State Patrol comman- 
dant: "Your antagonistic trooper made a threatening gesture 
with his baton as he got out of his car, as if I were a common 

To say that in the absence of strict guidelines the officer should 
use his own judgment sounds, no pun intended, like a cop-out. 
But the fact is that too-strict rules either way can jeopardize the 
officer's control over a situation that he might be able to handle 
peaceably if he plays it by ear. 

Consider the ubiquitous bar-brawl call. Few civilian review 
boards fault an officer who walked into a possible free-for-all 
with a stick in his hand. Yet there are times when his walking in 
so armed will be taken as a show of force by a certain type of 
clientele and make them more antagonistic toward the officer 
than they might be otherwise. This phenomenon is more likely 

Practical Applications and Considerations 121 

to occur, however, at private parties and residential disturbance 
scenes than in tough-neighborhood bar beefs. 

The concept of escalation of force is often misinterpreted. 
The officer should not think that he has to wait to see what de- 
gree of force an opponent is going to exert before he decides 
what level he'll use; the doctrine is "Sufficient and reasonable" 
force, not "equal" force. To digress for a moment, a baton 
might constitute equal force against a brawler with a sawed-off 
broomstick or heavy cane, but it is not sufficient because it does 
not necessarily intimidate or overwhelm the opponent, nor is it 
even reasonable in the sense that the officer's job is to decisively 
control violent lawbreakers, not engage them in contests of equal 

Indeed, the officer who is forced to use his nightstick to cripple 
the brawler with the cane might find himself in civil court. The 
attorney for the plaintiff will probably ask, "Officer X, why 
didn't you simply draw your gun and intimidate my client by a 
show of force? Why did you agree to fight him on his terms 
when you must have realized there was little chance that he'd put 
down his stick in the face of yours? You wanted an excuse to hit 
him with your stick, didn't you?" 

Let's go back to the officer responding to the tavern brawl dis- 
patch. He knows his beat, knows the type of people who fre- 
quent the place in progress, and has a good idea beforehand 
whether he's going to be jumped by a bunch of mean drunks in 
a gin mill or whether he's breaking up a couple of tipsy insur- 
ance salesmen in a suburban lounge. This will help to govern his 

On the whole, it is generally best to have the baton in hand, 
either drawn or in a ready-to-draw position if he uses Koga or 
Kubota techniques. Such an officer can quickly bring his baton 
from its left-side hang with his left hand, yet his condition of 
readiness is inconspicuous. 

If he will be whipping out the stick in a cross-draw mode, he 
may as well have the stick out. First, placing his hand over on the 
stick will create every bit as menacing an impression as having it 
drawn, and it Avill be much more difficult to bring into play if 

122 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

necessary. Second, the drawn stick is actually easier to conceal, 
either down beside or behind the leg, or behind the left tricep in 
the arms-folded approach that is part of the Lamb system. 

Oddly enough, there is one psychological advantage of going 
in with drawn stick, apart from the obvious intimidation value. If 
the officer decides that a gesture of good faith on his part may 
be helpful in quieting the potentially explosive tension on the 
scene, the simple act of putting the stick back on the belt can 
have an amazing calming effect. If the officer is trying to create 
the feeling of "Hey, guys, there's really no problem here, and I 
don't want to hurt anybody," that thrusting home of the stick 
into the baton ring seems to say, "I have no intention of hitting 
anybody; these are all-right guys, not scumbags like I thought 
they might be." 

Such an approach obviously puts the officer on dangerous 
ground, since the subjects may very well be "scumbags" who 
know what they are and are happy living out the role. For this 
reason, the officer who does make this little "defusing" gesture 
should keep his left hand on the baton while it's on the belt 
until he's sure he's safe: A quick Kubota-style draw will arm him 
again, and he'll now have the advantage of catching any sudden 
cop-jumper by surprise. Even the Lamb baton carrier can be 
drawn from in this fashion: it's rather like pulling a gun from 
a cross-draw holster with your Aveak hand. The stick comes out in 
an upward arc to your left, and the opponent's elbow or jawline 
is your target of choice. 

This ploy of bolstering the baton to show good faith is best 
employed in domestic disturbances, not heated civil disobedience 
situations or facedowns with hardcore barfighters, since the latter- 
are more likely to take it as a gesture of weakness, an advantage 
they can and will press. If the officer feels that "the good faith 
number" is the way to go in a given instance, it will be made 
even more effective if he holsters a stick they haven't seen yet. 

The concealed stick approach also gives the officer the tactical 
advantage of surprise and of drawing a belligerent suspect into 
a more controllable range before he makes his fight-stopping 
move. In addition to the subtle carry-in methods described above, 

Practical Applications and Considerations 123 

Lon Anderson teaches a technique that works with his Prosecutor 
and with Kubota-style straight stickfighting, as well. The officer 
unzips his jacket, and places the long end of his baton in his left 
front trouser pocket. His controlling right hand conceals the 
main body of the stick straight up inside his jacket, while the 
lower end does not protrude. With his arms folded, he gives little 
impression of menace, yet can bring the stick quickly into play, 
and from an (probably) unpredictable angle. 


Here we have one of the most trying situations the officer can 
face in the field. There's an occasional officer who's big enough 
and good enough that he can count on being able to take a pair 
of unarmed assailants, especially if he has a definite physical 
advantage. But what about a barful of brawlers? The biggest, 
meanest karate jock is short on both brains and survival instinct 
if he tries to take three or more with his hands, even two if the 
attackers are physically even with him, or more formidable. 

This, many say, is what the impact weapon is for, the classic 
purpose of the weapon that bridges the gap between hand and 
gun. They are right . . . sometimes. 

A very good man can sometimes use a full-size stick to ward off 
several attackers. This is especially true of the rare officer who 
carries a Prosecutor or nunchaku. But let us be clear: By force of 
numbers, the gang of opponents will eventually come in on his 
blind side, or perhaps one of them will risk a broken arm to tie 
up his weapon long enough for his accomplices to jump the offi- 
cer and drag him to the floor for a stomping — a stomping that 
will be all the more vicious and vengeful now that the officer has 
inflicted hurt on some of the members and perhaps embarrassed 
them in front of their peers by holding several of them at bay 

Just as the impact weapon is a poor defense against knife or 
iron pipe, so does it have shortcomings against multiple, unarmed 
assailants. And those shortcomings are much the same. 

Perhaps when the officer walked into the scene, his primary ob- 
jective was keeping the peace, his secondary intention was bring- 

124 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

ing in the violators. But at the moment the gang turns on him, 
the priority that moves to the forefront is survival. 

When the inoh moves in on the officer, he has several choices, 
none of them palatable. He may draw his stick and try to face 
them down, or back them off by decking the ringleader. Nice if 
you can do it; but if your psychological ploy doesn't work, you 
have no time to resort to anything else. 

If you can pick out the ringleader, and he conveniently posi- 
tions himself so you can drop him writhing with a swift baton 
swing, circumstances will have fallen luckily in your favor — but 
don't assume that this will cow his followers into submission. 

Years of watching TV have taught many young officers that the 
"bullies are basically cowards" theory means that calling their 
bluff backs them off. One recalls the cartoons of childhood, in 
which some frail little scout finally stands up to the beefy bully 
and sends him bawling home with a sharp left hook. One may 
also remember the good little scouts who tried it in real life and 
wound up in the hospital. Cowards the bullies may be, but their 
cowardice serves them well in that it allows them only to jump 
people they're sure they can take. 

This translates to the gang mentality. Let us say that five gang 
members are advancing toward you across a barroom floor, led by 
a chunky chief we'll call Rocky. Now, Rocky isn't their leader 
for nothing: he's probably a formidable brawler. But perhaps 
you're good with your baton, and Rocky has had one too many, 
and you catch him a fearsome swing that drops him like a sack 
of potatoes. 

Are the other four going to back off in awe? Perhaps they're 
going to look at each other with puzzled eyes and say, "Jeez, 
Rocky must be a candy-ass. How could we follow a nerd like 
that? Let's be good, and maybe this hero policeman will let us 
join the Police Athletic League and change our miserable lives!" 

Will they react that way? Perhaps. And perhaps Santa Clans 
will come down the tavern chimney and trample them with his 
reindeer, and cry "Hohoho, Officer Friendly, I like your sense of 
restraint. In keeping with the spirit of Christmas, you know. 

Practical Applications and Considerations 125 

A more likely response is an attack on the officer, by the fol- 
lowers, with doubled savagery, because Rocky didn't get to be 
leader by leaving any doubt that lie might be candy-ass; Rocky is 
chief because his followers have an enormous respect for him 
and dote on his favor. They don't want him to wake up and 
look at them and ask why didn't they take care of him after that 
cop sucker-punched him with a club. They want to be the first 
one to get the cop who got Rocky, and they are perfectly willing 
to risk broken heads to do that. 

The downed officer is likely to be relieved of his service re- 
volver, and it is not improbable that in the frenzy of the assault 
he will be shot with it. His sacrificing himself to the gang creates 
a greater danger than if he had simply walked out. Yet I have 
posed such situations in test questions during weapons seminars 
and been shocked to find that nearly one half of the officers 
would answer, "If I was in this position, I'd try to fight my way 
out with my stick, and if they got me, well, that's part of the risk 
I took with the job." 

I reiterate: Risk is in the contract, but sacrifice is not. Martyrs 
can cause more trouble than they can inspiration, and in this 
case, we may foresee a problem as grave as a gang of vicious 
punks who have killed or crippled a police officer and are now in 
possession of his service sidearm, and of the keys to his vehicle, 
which may contain a combat shotgun . . . the effects of this offi- 
cer's poor judgment may ripple outward in an ever-widening 
shockwave of violence and tragedy. 

One of the officer's other options when facing multiple, un- 
armed opponents is to resort to the firearm. Remember, disparity 
of physical force in strength or number of unarmed assailants 
is equal in the eyes of the law to an armed assault by a single at- 
tacker! A gang bent on delivering a beating is as likely to kill as 
a lone punk with a knife; this is therefore a lethal force situa- 
tion, and the deadly threat (or the deadly employment) of the 
revolver may well be warranted. 

Here the deterrent effect of the service revolver is precious. 
Their courage and intent fortified by their numbers, the gang is 
unlikely to be deterred by the sight of a stick. It is the firearm 

126 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

that is "the equalizer" and is universally recognized as such. The 
advantage to the outnumbered patrolman is obvious. 

But there are ancillary problems with this tactic. Suppose that 
your gun is sufficient to back off all but one of your attackers? If 
the others retreat, the disparity of force situation suddenly dis- 
appears. You are no longer justified in shooting the single trou- 
blemaker who is advancing on you. 

If circumstances* permit, you may be able to quickly holster 
your gun, return to your impact weapon, and deck that advance 
man. But this in turn opens a series of new problems. The peo- 
ple behind the cocky leader probably won't realize what motivat- 
ed you to put the gun away; they may interpret it as, "Rocky 
backed down the cop. Let's jump him now, and see how brave he 
is without his gun!" 

You're risking a lot, probably too much. Once you've drawn the 
gun, don't holster it until you're satisfied that you're in control 
of the situation, because by introducing the firearm to the con- 
frontation, you have yourself escalated the degree of force in- 
volved in the encounter. Don't forget, the people facing you are 
thinking in a frame totally different from yours; they think 
they're in the right, and you're just giving them something to 
further justify, to them, their violent assault on you ("We 
wouldn'ta stomped him if he hadn'ta pulled his gun on us and 
got us ticked off!"). 

But this doesn't get you out of the situation described two 
paragraphs ago. We now have some justification for two tactics 
with the service handgun that would normally never be employed 
in an armed confrontation: the warning shot and the shot to 

The blast of a .38, let alone a .357 or 9 mm, going off in an en- 
closed space is an awesome sound. It's like a slap in the face: It 
jars people awake and instills an instant sobering understanding 
of the magnitude of the situation. If you feel you must fire a 

* "Circumstances" being in this case a confident officer who is fast and expert 
with both gun and stick and who has plenty of room between himself and the 
advancing antagonist, and more room between the antagonist and bis reinforce- 

Practical Applications and Considerations 127 

warning shot, aim for something very solid with no one behind 
it or, if in a ground-floor tavern, put it into the floor which is 
likely to be more heavily reinforced than the ceiling. 

The shot to wound should be directed to the foot area or lower 
legs. As we've mentioned elsewhere in this book, a wound to the 
lower extremities can be fatal due to hemorrhage or shock and 
is likely to result in permanent crippling. You can't "call" a flesh 
wound, and ironically, in this particular life-threatening situa- 
tion, a flesh wound won't do the job for you. What you want is 
a bullet that breaks bone, that drops your attacker in a heap, 
screaming and clutching his leg. To the people behind him, there 
is little more in the way of a show of force that will be more 

This is not the contradiction of previous paragraphs that some 
might think. We have just said that disparity of force ceases to 
be a concrete factor when those behind the ringleader leave off 
the attack. However, if they are still close in behind him, and if 
they have made clear their intentions in their previous moments 
to commit a gang-assault on the officer, there are a few case cita- 
tions that may justify the officer's actions, on the theory that the 
fickle followers still are close enough to do bodily harm to the 
policeman and have already expressed their intentions of doing 

If your particular court doesn't care to consider those prece- 
dents, you can offer in defense the fact that you did not shoot to 
kill, but fired deliberately to wound. Neither of the two mitigat- 
ing circumstances we've just described would normally be suffi- 
cient to cover you, but the two of them together give substantial 
weight to the fact that you were trying to escape an imminent 
and deadly danger with the least possible use of force. Add to 
this the statement, "Your honor, I felt it was best to hurt one of 
them badly enough to shock the others into submission, rather 
than to let them continue to the point where I would have had 
no choice but to shoot at more of them, and shoot to kill," and 
your position is improved still further. 

You can, of course, evade the whole issue by backing out when 
they move in on you, retreating to a secure area (get in your 

128 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

cruiser and split, if you have to), and calling in reinforcements. 
Psychologically, it's good for you to explain this to the ringleader 
if you have time before you get pounced. ("Look, Rocky, I don't 
doubt that you could take me one on one, but my boss doesn't al- 
low me to get beat up on the job, and if it looks like you and 
your guys are going to gang up on me, I'm just gonna have to go 
and call out the troops and get everybody in here busted. So sup- 
pose you guys just call it a night, and save everybody all the 

There is no shame in calling for reinforcements. If you try to 
play hero and get stomped, the reinforcements are going to come 
in anyway, and they're going to come angry, and the result will 
be bloodshed, and a spate of police brutality accusations, and 
perhaps more officers hurt in an atmosphere of greater violence 
among a gang that's already gotten a taste of cop's blood. Indeed 
there is a great deterring and defusing effect in leaving quietly 
and returning in force. Things inside the bar will often quiet 
down spontaneously during the interim. ("Hey, Sarge, we're sorry 
we gave your man a bad time a few minutes ago. We didn't mean 
nothing.") Failing that, ten of you coming back to face down 
five of them not only returns in spades any embarrassment they 
caused you a few minutes before but (a) reduces the chances of 
bloodshed, (b) reduces the likelihood of injury to innocent by- 
standers on the scene, (c) reduces hours of paperwork you'll 
have processing cop-fighters, and (d) gives your brother officers 
a chance to go home feeling they've accomplished something in 
the eternal "War Against Bad Guys" tonight. 

But if things break too close and too fast for psychology or a 
tactical retreat, and you have the choice of using your gun or 
your stick, you may come up against a rule we see often in police 
department "use of force" codes: The Gun Will Not Be Drawn 
on Unarmed Suspects. 

In some departments, Warren on Homicide isn't worth any- 
thing, at least not until after agonizing months of waiting out 
department hearings and appeals, with the attendant embarrass- 
ment to self and family and loss or postponement of income. In 
the wake of misuse of force by some officers, some departments 
have stated flatly that guns will not be used against unarmed as- 

Practical Applications and Considerations 129 

sailants no matter how large their number, on pain of dismissal 
from the force. 

The officer who works under such policy may wish to take his 
lumps and risk the loss of his service gun and worse when he is 
overwhelmed by multiple, unarmed assailants. 

He may wish to balance his immediate physical danger against 
the possibility of future departmental discipline. Officers who 
have been censured by their departments for using their guns in 
situations like these may sometimes regret their decision on the 
scene, but not so much as permanently crippled officers who were 
afraid to draw their guns in the face of deadly, violent, dis- 
parate physical force when the weapons were many pairs of fists 
and shod feet instead of a single gun or knife. 

Which brings us back to the impact weapon. In a confronta- 
tion with multiple, unarmed assailants, the baton or whatever 
can sometimes be employed against two or even three attackers, 
if they're badly alcohol-impaired or if the officer is certain he can 
overwhelm them. Normally, a pair is highly dangerous and a trio 
or more is deadly, and here we have the kind of potentially lethal 
physical force that the police impact weapon was never designed 
to ward off. Deadly danger is for deadly weapons. 

There are many officers who can tell you stories of having sub- 
dued multiple opponents with their impact weapons or, for that 
matter, with their hands. Many of their stories are true. There 
are also people who can tell you how they broke the bank at 
Monte Carlo, and some of their stories are equally honest. The 
two sets of stories have in common the fact that the tellers were 
gambling, and against heavy odds; a policeman who loses when 
he bets his stick against a gang of angry toughs stands to take a 
heavier and more permanent loss than any man can afford. 

There has been much made of "a recent Supreme Court deci- 
sion in which an officer was found culpable for shooting three 
unarmed attackers, and judged civilly liable for more than 
$800,000." This case has been widely misconstrued. It involved a 
Columbus, Ohio officer attacked in a bar while off duty and carry- 
ing a gun per department regulations. Witnesses indicated that 
the officer was "getting his face kicked in" by three individuals 
wearing engineer boots; the officer drew his weapon and opened 

130 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

fire. Two people in the act of kicking him were shot dead; the 
third fled and was shot in the back as he exited the establishment. 
An $800,000-plus award went to the third suspect, who was left 
paralyzed by the officer's bullet; the estates of the two dead at- 
tackers received almost token awards. 

The Supreme Court did not decide this case; rather, it rejected 
review, saying in effect that the previous courtroom procedure 
had been proper and not necessarily agreeing with the philosophy 
of its outcome. Informed observers believe that the decision 
against the officer was based on the fact that he had shot a fleeing 
suspect who offered him no further danger; this question is 
arguable and, being more in the lethal force category, is not real- 
ly germane to this book. The case outcome may also have been 
affected by the fact that the officer was off-duty (though other 
decisions give the officer full police self-defense rights on his 
own time, considering the nature of the job to be such that his 
law enforcement responsibilities surround him constantly), and 
also by the fact that an argument over a woman was one factor 
leading up to the violence. The officer, it should be noted, had 
not started the argument, was not intoxicated, and was in fact 
found justified in all his actions in this incident by a departmen- 
tal review board. 

The Columbus officer's plight was not a cut-and-dried situa- 
tion; his off-duty status and other aspects entered into the final 
decision, primarily the fact that he shot the third suspect at a 
moment when he was no longer in danger from him. The slaying 
of the first two suspects alone could have been much more suc- 
cessfully defended. 

In any case, though some instructors state that this case is a 
basic reason why the stick and not the gun should be used against 
superior, unarmed physical force, the fact remains that no deci- 
sion fully supports this, and that every doctrine of self-defense 
law still allows the officer to use his gun when threatened with 
death or grave bodily harm by multiple, unarmed attackers. 


Stickfighting systems of the martial arts rely heavily on foot- 
work for the basics of moving into and away from the oppo- 

Practical Applications and Considerations 131 

nent, for evasion of another's blows, and to maximize the force 
of each of the practitioner's strikes. In American police training, 
the most footwork-oriented system is the "LAPD Method," which 
derives heavily from Oriental forms and was developed for the 
department by hard-core martial artists. 

The FBI style relies on little beyond the most basic footwork. 
Ditto the Prosecutor system as taught by inventor Lon Anderson. 
James Phillips, the leading authority on the police nunchaku, de- 
emphasizes footwork in his police training except to augment the 
weapon strikes with kicks. 

It is well to do without as much complicated footwork as pos- 
sible. First, it will work instinctively and effectively only for the 
man who is constantly sparring a practice opponent — a fraction 
of 1 percent of police. Second, fancy footwork that is effective 
on the wide flat floor of a dojo or gymnasium will not translate 
to a fight in a barroom, or on the street in icy weather, or in any 
kind of close quarters. The officer is more likely to get his feet 
tangled in the obstacles of the unfamiliar scene and be thrown 
off balance. 

The only footwork the average officer should really try to mas- 
ter is forward and backward sliding of the feet. The Lamb 
method is the classic example: as the officer prepares to strike, he 
slides his weak foot back, thus (a) putting him subtly but effec- 
tively out of the opponent's range, (b) shielding groin and solar 
plexus from frontal assault, and (c) increasing leverage and im- 
pact of his swing, since the weapon now has an arc of movement 
sufficiently great to enhance momentum, but not so great as to 
"telegraph" his blow.* The officer should also be able to slide his 
strong foot back, thus shortening the range of his stick but per- 
mitting him to plant his feet and strike with maximum force: 
the "reverse punch" position, which also increases the length and 
hence the momentum of the baton strike. 

Beyond these simple and instinctive movements, intricate foot- 

* It should be noted that only with an across-the-body swing like Lamb's does 
this increase in force occur with this stance; most other blows delivered with the 
strong side forward will shorten and hence weaken the technique. Strong side 
forward, generally speaking, gives range and speed, while strong side "reversed," or 
to (he rear, gives raw power. 

132 Modern Police. Impact Weapons 

work, can get the officer into more trouble than it can get him out 
of, since he will be using his techniques in an unknown environ- 
ment and won't always be in a position where he can be sure of 
his footing or what's behind or beneath him. Footwork is impor- 
tant with the LAPD system, since many of the swings and jabs 
are employed with most of the length of the stick tucked under 
the forearm, sacrificing much range. But with Lamb style full- 
length swings, or with the spinning techniques of the Prosecutor 
or the whipping movements of the nunchaku, the officer has a 
long-range weapon that outreaches his feet and his opponent's; 
he may concentrate on controlling his weapon with hands, arms, 
shoulders, and hips and let his feet worry about nothing except 
keeping him upright and balanced. 

Another aspect of footwork, of course, is being able to kick 
or sweep the opponent. Kicks should be used at close range, as 
when grappling; it is also surprisingly easy to learn to use the 
lead leg to block or "jam" an opponent's upcoming kick, that is, 
to catch his rising shin on the sole of your shoe. 

The most effective kicking techniques, in stickfighting or other- 
wise, are quick snap-kicks to the knee and shin region. Low 
enough that the opponent can't grab your foot and that you 
don't lose your balance, these blows effectively immobilize your 
opponent by making his movements slow and awkward, or by 
dropping him in a heap if you catch him properly. These kicks 
should be part of sparring and practice, one reason your stick- 
sparring partner should always be wearing heavy, rigid shin and 
knee guards. 


The "sleeper hold," which mystified commercial wrestling au- 
diences for years, exists. Martial artists have known it for cen- 
turies. So have doctors. It operates on the very simple premise 
that (a) the carotid arteries carry blood into the brain via the 

* Reprinted from Trooper, an Organization Services Corp. Publication, by 

Practical Applications and Considerations 133 

neck; (b) the brain requires a substantial supply of freshly 
oxygenated blood to function; therefore (c) if one blocks the 
carotid arteries, the subject's brain ceases to function, beginning 
almost immediately with unconsciousness. 

But it isn't that simple. The brain is the most complex organ 
of the body, and when you start messing with it you can cause a 
lot of problems you don't realize. 

Various sleeper holds, or "choke-outs," are taught in law en- 
forcement. Let's look at them, and then examine their use in the 
light of tactical applicability, morality, and the basic laws of 
both society and medicine. 

Applying the Sleeper Hold 

Forget about putting an opponent to sleep by grinding your 
knuckle into the hollow beneath his ear. The carotids are located 
beneath and ahead of the base of the jaw. To occlude them — 
block them off — you must apply pressure on both sides. On one 
side only, impairment of consciousness will take much, much 
longer, and besides, in a fight situation, it is virtually impossible 
to hold the neck still enough to apply pressure on one side if you 
aren't already applying it to the other. 

There are many methods, and most of them work best when 
applied from behind. There are several stick techniques, useful 
with conventional batons (preferably 18 inches or more), the 
Prosecutor baton, or the nunchaku sticks that more and more 
officers are carrying. They are explained in Figures 53 and 54. 
One trouble with all of them, as will readily be seen, is that it is 
extremely hard to apply them without putting pressure on the 
cervical spine as well as the carotids. 

Properly applied, the "mugger's lock" can be transformed into 
a sleeper hold. It won't work as fast, because the bearing surfaces 
(your forearm on one side, your bicep on the other) are neither 
narrow enough nor unyielding enough to equal the degree of 
pressure you can create with a baton "choke-out." This technique 
is seen in Figure 55. Because the effect of this hold is not so im- 
mediate, the officer should take care to protect his groin and eyes 

1 34 

Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 53. The author demonstrates a weaponless variation of chokeout. 
Note that the "spare" hand reinforces the hold against suspect's struggles and 
adds pressure. Bicep on one side and rigid bone of forearm on the other are 
closing off the carotids. With hip into small of suspect's back, left knee ready 
to come up to block groin grab, and gun turned away from suspect, the officer 
is in a controlling position. This technique is often more adaptable to an 
officer in a barfight than the chokeout technique involving a baton, but either 
can cause serious injury to suspect. Photograph by R. Morin. 

Practical Applications and Considerations 135 

from a clawing hand, and his sidearm should be turned away 
from the suspect. 

Judo-style choke-outs can simply involve grasping the collars a 
few inches down from the throat and forcibly crossing one's 
hands, thus tightening the fabric of the collar sharply against 
the carotids. This works great if the man is wearing a heavy judo 
gi or a denim jacket, but most ordinary shirts will tear during 
the struggle, destroying the effect of the hold and leaving the 
officer with his hands uselessly tied up as the suspect counter- 
attacks. Any choke-out technique, or for that matter any two- 
handed hold applied from the front, is always dangerous to the 
officer for just this reason: The attacker's hands are free while 
the officer's are busy, and those hands may claw at the policeman's 
eyes or groin, or punch his navel right into his lumbar spine. 

There are other choke-out/ sleeper hold techniques, but those 
illustrated with this article comprise the ones that are most ef- 
fectively applied by someone not in the martial arts, and the 
ones most commonly used by American police. 

Why the Sleeper? 

On the surface, the sleeper hold appears to be an ideal tech- 
nique for stopping trouble. If properly applied, it renders the 
subject unconscious in six to eight seconds — sometimes less if he 
is in debilitated physical condition, but often longer if he has 
thick neck muscles and is fighting furiously. If the officer doesn't 
have it quite right, it can take much longer. 

But let's assume, oh, seven seconds. Here is a man subdued 
fairly rapidly, without a head broken by a baton, and without 
additional blood being spilled. And it often does work like this. 
In tough Camden, New Jersey, black belt Jim Phillips of the 
Tactical Unit converted the police department to nunchaku sticks 
for some time. Many are still in use. Phillips teaches a scissor 
hold on barfighters and rambunctious drunks: usually, he and his 
students will apply just enough pressure to convince the subject 
to come along under his own power, but frequently, the subject 
will have to be rendered unconscious by the nutcrackerlike pres- 
sure of the sticks. Phillips reports no serious injuries and states 
that physicians he has consulted in his police-instructor capacity 

1 36 

Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 54a. To execute chokeout from behind with straight baton, the con- 
trol hand is held forward and slid around neck as shown. 

Practical Applications and Considerations 


Figure 54b. The other hand grabs protruding end and creates scissor effect 
that immobilizes suspect and quickly causes him to pass out from carotid 
artery occlusion. Difficult to apply except from behind without officer leaving 
himself open. From Trooper, with permission. 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 55. Chokeout technique with nunchaku is swift and effective but 
potentially very dangerous to the suspect. 

have approved the technique as safe. That is at odds, however, 
with other medical opinion, as we shall see later. 

Physical After-Effects 

In most cases, the choke-out produces little in the way of after- 
effects. Most subjects will experience a headache when they wake 

Practical Applications and Considerations 139 

up. Often, they will vomit upon awakening, just as do many who 
are rendered unconscious by blows. They may be disoriented or 
a little "spacey" for a period of time. 

Duration of unconsciousness is unpredictable. If the hold has 
been applied for the minimum time, the person may regain con- 
sciousness in less than a minute. It will usually take several. At 
worst, if the lock has been held too long, if the person has the 
wrong kind of chemicals in his sytem, or if there are physical 
problems that have been aggravated by what has happened, he 
may never wake up. 

And these possibilities are many. They have been pointed out 
to us by doctors who were familiarized with the various choke- 
out techniques and asked about what could be expected. They in- 
clude a neurosurgeon, a cardiologist, an ophthalmologist, and a 
specialist in internal medicine. They told us we could expect the 
following in a certain percentage of choke-out victims. 

Stroke. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is 
interrupted. A choke-out or sleeper hold also works when the 
blood supply to the brain is interrupted. The difference is one of 
degree. When talking about something as delicate as the human 
brain and central nervous system, those degrees are often too 
subtle for the layman to attempt to distinguish between. A stroke 
is especially likely in a suspect who, unknown to the officer who 
is forced to subdue him, has high blood pressure or any of a 
number of other cardiovascular problems. The physical condi- 
tion of the suspect is an unknown quantity to the officer, in terms 
of medical problems that he may have, and stroke is something 
that must be considered whenever the officer attempts to close off 
the carotid arteries of even a young and vigorous-appearing 

Heart attack. The pressure applied in a sleeper hold often 
focuses on a part of the arterial complex called the carotid sinus. 
In oversimplified terms, what happens here is a backup effect on 
blood flow that can throw the heart into violent response, causing 
heart attack. 

Convulsive seizures. It is not at all uncommon for an indi- 
vidual to go into a series of convulsions resembling a grand mal 
fit of epilepsy when the caiotid arteries have been occluded. This 

140 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

may occur in a person who does not suffer from epilepsy, and I 
have witnessed such occurrences in martial arts exercises. It is, of 
course, much more likely in epileptics but can be expected to oc- 
cur in the healthiest of subjects. 

Aspiration of vomit. Though vomiting is most common 
after the choked-out suspect has regained consciousness, it may 
well occur while he is still passed out. To prevent the vomit from 
being inspirated (breathed) into the lungs, one has to suction out 
the victim's mouth and throat. Well-equipped ambulance teams 
do this with electrically operated or bulb-type aspirators. The of- 
ficer who has to keep alive a vomiting suspect he has choked into 
unconsciousness will have to resort to the other alternative: suck 
the vomit out of the suspect's mouth with his own. Enough said. 

Blindness. We have been assured by both a neurosurgeon and an 
ophthalmologist that a properly applied choke-out, held for 
twenty seconds or longer, may cause permanent blindness. If you 
doubt it, and if you are certain you have no cardiovascular, 
neurological, or eye problems, put down this book, then reach up 
and take your left collar firmly in your right hand and vice versa. 
Pull crossways, hard. You will feel immediately the pounding of 
your pulse, a flushing of the face, a sense of lightheadedness, and, 
in a few seconds, a definite pressure in the back of your eyeballs. 
If you are still awake, pick the book back up and read on. 

Ruptured arteries. This is most likely to occur in a suspect 
who suffers from arteriosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries 
with attendant narrowing of the actual passageways of the blood 
vessels. The backed-up blood pressure that occurs in a sleeper 
hold may burst the weakened arteries; so may release of the hold, 
when the blood comes rushing back in, again stressing the arterial 
walls. "So what," say some advocates of the sleeper hold. "We'll 
never apply this technique to any senior citizen with hardening 
of the arteries." In fact, the condition may be present in people 
in their late twenties and a lot of people in their thirties, and it 
is particularly common among the alcoholics who start so many 
brawls. In the aftermath of such a suspect's untimely death, his 
unknown medical history may be obscured by the fact that "he 
dropped dead after the cop choked him." 

Practical Applications and Considerations 141 

Permanent brain damage. "Brain death" begins when oxygenat- 
ed blood is withheld from the brain for a period of four to six 
minutes. Once those brain cells die, they never grow back. In the 
heat of a fight, most officers will keep the hold on until they are 
sure the subject is totally out. Indeed, if the hold is released too 
early, the suspect may recover his full faculties almost instantly. 
Few officers will hold a chokeout for five minutes, but they may 
hold it long enough to impair blood supply to certain parts of 
the brain long enough to kill them. The result can be a human 
vegetable, or one resembling a victim of advanced Parkinson's 
disease. Quite apart from moral considerations, such people are 
likely to win six and seven figure damage suits against police de- 
partments and individual officers. 

Spinal injury. Since by definition the choke-out involves a very 
forcible manipulation of the suspect's neck, the danger of a 
broken cervical spine is always great. These holds are applied in 
such a way that if the neck does break (probably separating 
somewhere between the fourth and seventh cervical vertebrae), 
the sharp ends of the spine will, under pressure, slice right 
through the spinal cord, which is the consistency of thick cheese 
or fatty meat, cuts easily, and can never heal. The result is a sus- 
pect who is now either instantly dead, mortally injured, or per- 
manently quadriplegic. 

This isn't supposed to happen, some instructors say. It's never 
supposed to happen, and in a training environment, it looks safe. 
As a police combat instructor, I have applied these techniques, 
and had them applied to me in the classroom without injury. But 
on the street, they are tricky. Baton techniques are especially 
dangerous in choke-outs, and particularly the Prosecutor baton, 
with which the handle goes behind the neck and can act like a 
fulcrum over which the bones are forced and snapped. 

Sure, you're pushing sideways so the neck won't break, and ap- 
plying just enough pressure to cause unconsciousness. But sup- 
pose the suspect goes suddenly limp, and 150 or 200 pounds of 
dead weight suddenly drop in a direction they aren't supposed to? 
Or, what if (as you are applying your perfectly executed hold) 
another 200-pound barfighter is thrown into either you or your 

142 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

suspect, causing one or both of you to lose your balance or even 

At that moment, the sharp cracking sound you hear will be the 
suspect's neck breaking, and the finality of that sound could be 
the end of your law enforcement career. A suspect accidentally 
killed or permanently maimed in a "non-lethal-force," "subdual" 
situation is extremely hard to explain away. 

Throat injuries. When you wrap sticks or brawny arms around 
people's necks, it's hard to avoid their throats. Even if you apply 
your hold perfectly to the sides of a person's neck, totally avoid- 
ing larynx and windpipe, you may slip during the struggle, or the 
fighting opponent may turn at an inopportune moment. Since 
you are concentrating on applying the pressure, you may not 
realize that you are crushing the throat until it's too late, until 
you hear the sound of the cartilage caving in, a sound like a hor- 
net makes when you step on it, only louder and wetter. 

A crushed larynx, at best, results in a suspect with a permanent 
vocal impediment. Most often, it means an airway that is blocked 
against everyting including artificial resuscitation. The only way 
out for this victim/ offender is a tracheostomy, the slitting open 
of the windpipe below the injury coupled with the insertion of 
a breathing tube. This procedure, once "taught" to everyone but, 
or perhaps including, the Boy Scouts, is actually very easy to foul 
up. It is no longer taught even in Emergency Medical Technician 
classes (as the instructors put it, the EMT's are only "familiar- 
ized" with it), because so many people died after being clumsily 


It's not hard to understand why something that renders a man 
unconscious in seconds with, supposedly, no after-effects, catches 
the imagination of lawmen who have to deal in violent physical 

But one must understand its shortcomings. First, it is hard to 
apply on a man you don't already have at a tactical fighting dis- 
advantage and if that's the case, why choke him unconscious at 

The danger of broken necks, crushed throats, strokes, ruptured 

Practical Applications and Considerations 143 

arteries, seizures, and other life-threatening trauma is great in 
this supposedly "safe subduing technique." These things must be 
considered. The officer who does choose to apply them should be 
highly trained and skilled in emergency first aid treatment for 
the injuries that may result. 

The sleeper hold: Most of the time, if you do it right, it will 
work great. But no matter how good you are, the time will come 
when you face a person who can't take what it does to their 
bodies: A belligerent barfighter who may have earned some 
bruises but doesn't deserve to die; a drunk who's like you when 
he's sober but isn't going to be anymore because a choke-out hold 
has left him permanently injured or dead. 

The sleeper hold works if you know how to use it. But it 
brings you into that dangerous area of a policeman's use of 
force, that area between what you are allowed to do with your 
hands, and what you are supposed to do, if you have to do it at 
all, with your gun. 

Know it. Be able to use it. But understand it, and only use it 
when there is no other choice that is safer to you and those you 
protect, or more humane to the person you must subdue. 

If that sounds like the rules that govern your gun, it's no coin- 
cidence. Both can kill. Both demand the respect of those who 
command their power. 


It's a rare police station that has a gym with a heavy bag or 
"numb John" dummy readily available for off-duty patrolmen. 
In the great majority of cases, the officer who wishes to develop 
and maintain practical skill with his impact weapon will have to 
practice at home. 

The Monadnock training manual recommends a canvas bag 
stuffed witli old clothing. A fifty pound heavy bag is better. Man- 
size dummies are better yet, but their cost is relatively high, well 
over 100 dollars. Moreover, the heavy bag will move and swing 
with the hit, more realistically simulating an opponent's response 
on the street. 

The light speed bag of the "speedball" type, secured to both 
ceiling and floor by long, stretching springs, is seldom seen in 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 56. Everlast 4220 "reflex bag" is an invaluable asset to baton training. 
Also useful are fifty pound heavy bags or a canvas sack stuffed with old 
clothing. Reflex bag is ideal for timing as it returns from each blow in an un- 
predictable direction, coming straight at the officer. 

Practical Applications and Considerations 145 

police gyms but is a worthy addition for either baton or hand-to- 
hand combat practice: the impact of the officer's blow throws it 
sharply back, and it will return snappily from an unpredictable 

It is possible to attain a certain degree of proficiency without 
actually striking anything at all. Motion drills with the baton re- 
semble stick katas in karate weaponry, and many a martial arts 
student has attained black belt rating in the use of the bo (quar- 
terstaff) without ever really hitting anything with it. 

This approach is certainly better than nothing: It makes the 
officer dextrous and confident, and a blow that is fast and potent 
in "shadowboxing" will be equally so against a live opponent. 
But a delinite element is missing: The officer cannot learn, in this 
way, to recover from a strike, and deliver a second one quickly. 

The shock of the impact travelling up the arm can have a jolt- 
ing, unbalancing effect on the officer who is unprepared for it. It 
will also change the pattern and direction of movement of both 
his arm and his impact weapon. For this reason, even the officer 
who does not have regular access to a heavy bag or similar train- 
ing aid should make a point of trying one at least now and then, 
to familiarize himself with what it really feels like to deliver a 
hard blow with his baton. 

Quality plastic batons may be struck against trees in practice. 
The Monadnock company, which at one time suggested this 
method in a training brochure, as of 1977 has replaced all their 
plastic Prosecutor batons that have been broken in such a man- 
ner. I have subjected Prosecutors to such abuse for some time 
without damage. Conventional style plastic batons would, of 
course, be more likely to break during this sort of activity, since 
they lack the quick bounceback characteristics of loose-in-the- 
hand weapons like the Prosecutor or nunchaku. 

The officer should not, however, practice his striking tech- 
niques only on targets. There should be a certain amount of no- 
impact kata as well, to familiarize him with quick handling and 
recovery should he miss his opponent with his baton strike. 

There is some argument among police instructors as to whether 
officers should perform warm-up exercises to loosen up the mus- 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 57. Good example of eclectic baton technique. Using Lamb movement 
tactics with Prosecutor baton, the left hand is raised to block. Officer has 
taken a deep step back with left leg to pull his head out of range and make 
suspect come in on him overbalanced. 

Practical Applications and Considerations 147 

cles prior to baton practice. Certainly, this reduces fatigue and 
the likelihood of muscle strains and cramps. Some feel, however, 
that the body is so much more flexible after warm-up exercises 
that the baton has a different feel than when used suddenly, by 
surprise; the muscles are tighter, and as a result, speed and fluid- 
ity of movement is different. I personally prefer the more realis- 
tic method of working out with no warm-up, to more perfectly 
duplicate the level of physical ability and muscle tone that will 
be present on the street. This can be done without ill effect sim- 
ply by reducing the length of the workouts, perhaps compensat- 
ing with shorter, more frequent, practice periods. 

Contact sparring is extremely difficult with impact weapons. 
Possibly the best approach yet to emerge is a part of the Lamb 
method: the plastic sleeves that come on golf clubs are cut to 
24 inches (or whatever the length of the officer's baton) and used 
in the characteristic Lamb-style slashing techniques. The sting is 
negligible. True, the light, hollow plastic "practice weapons" 
don't have the same feel and balance as the real thing, but they 
do have a vitally important advantage: they train the officer to 
swing and hit full force. A surprising number of police find 
themselves unable to hit another human being solidly with a 
stick. The result is a light tap that the assailant ignores, and per- 
haps an officer is felled despite the fact that he had the where- 
withal to subdue his attacker. 

Karate-style protective gear is available: bamboo chest- and 
groin-guards and rigid plastic shin protectors. Sparring helmets 
should also be used, and motorcycle helmets may be even more 
effective. Some sort of face shield should also be used, in case the 
practice partner inadvertently lets his stick flash toward one's 
face. Naturally, blows to the head and vulnerable parts of the 
body such as the wrist, should be strictly forbidden. 

Indeed, sparring with real impact weapons will unquestionably 
lead to injuries, no matter how much protective gear is used. 
Such sparring should take place only with true practice weapons: 
either the light plastic tube as used in the Lamb method, or 
foam-rubber sticks typified by the Shuriken Practice Nunchaku. 
Military-style training with pugil sticks is still used in some police 


Modern Police Imparl Weapons 

Figure 58. Officer working out on his own time at home should try as much 
as possible to duplicate his ability to perform in the street. This means duty 
shoes instead of sneakers, duty gun belt, and vest if one is worn on the job 
(to prevent soiling vest with perspiration, it should be worn outside the 
sweatshirt during practice — vest will slightly impair shoulder and torso flex- 
ibility) . Author, shown during workout with the 36 inch quarterstaff or riot 
baton has made one mistake: He should be wearing Poly/Steelwall gloves 
that normally accompany this equipment. Courtesy of Hooksett Police. 

Practical Applications and Considerations 149 

academies and riot schools. However, this is far too demanding 
and high-risk an endeavor for in-service instruction. If it is un- 
dertaken, it should be at a recognized training facility under 
highly experienced instructors, with first-aid trained officers (and 
emergency medical equipment) present. 

Officers working out together on their own time should limit 
their activities to heavy bags and katas. It will be found that an 
observer will recognize the officer's mistakes in approach and 
technique much more readily than he will himself, since his 
"view from behind the weapon" is restricted, and the officer fre- 
quently concentrates so hard on his hand and weapon movements 
that he forgets his footwork. If the two officers choose to spar 
with impact weapons, they should use the practice-type soft- 
impact sticks. They should also practice while wearing issue foot- 
gear and duty weapon belt, to exactly duplicate their mobility 
and body flexibility in street situations. The officer who wears a 
protective vest under his uniform shirt should wear it in practice 
also, probably outside his sweatshirt to reduce perspiration satu- 
ration. Such vests will, incidentally, offer a definite degree of pro- 
tection against blows from fists or sticks. The policeman who 
works in cold climates should also practice frequently while 
wearing winter coat and footwear, since these will appreciably 
curtail his speed and latitude of movement; it is best for him to 
learn the extent of these limitations in a controlled training en- 


Obviously, the cranium (skull), the back of the neck, and the 
throat are potentially lethal targets of the stick, and should be 
avoided in any situation where the officer is not legally and 
morally justified in exerting lethal force on the suspect. This 
rare circumstance is typified by the officer whose partner is down, 
grappling with a suspect who holds a knife or gun, and the officer 
doesn't dare risk a shot for fear of hitting the innocent party. 

Other targets are less lethal but still tricky. 

The collarbone (clavicle) has long been touted as the ideal 
target for the police officer's impact weapon. Unprotected by 
layers of muscle, the collarbone breaks readily under the blow of 

150 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

a stick, and such an injury tends to have a dramatic effect on the 
subject's continued hostility. As Arthur Lamb says, "It causes him 
to reconsider his negative attitude." The arm on the side of the 
fracture will usually drop, unless the suspect is extraordinarily 
well-muscled and possesses an enormous tolerance of pain. Any 
movement of his body, such as a continued forward assault, will 
cause the broken bone ends to grind most painfully against each 
other. The suspect's natural reaction will be to bring his good 
arm over to support the injured one. Fractured clavicles tend to 
heal without unusual complications. 

The only disadvantage is that a downward swing to the clavicle 
comes dangerously close to the head. It is possible that the offi- 
cer's aim will be off, or that the suspect will stumble, and the 
blow may land on the temple or face instead. Normally, however, 
the suspect's reaction will be to jerk his head back, ironically giv- 
ing the officer a clearer shot at his intended target, the collarbone. 
Since this blow is normally delivered in a face-to-face encounter, 
the swing is coming over and in from the side, and there is little 
danger of the stick smashing into the larynx instead. 

The elbow is an extremely useful target for the policeman's 
impact weapon. Since the arm swings free, it tends to roll with 
the impact, instead of rigidly resisting it. A broken elbow is thus 
unlikely, while there will still be great pain and numbing effect, 
due to the unprotected bone and nerve endings that will be hit. 
In addition to reducing the suspect's capability to continue fight- 
ing, a sharp blow on the elbow, or on the "crazy bone" (the nerve 
complex just above the knob of the elbow) will frequently im- 
mobilize the suspect totally by virtue of the overwhelming, if 
temporary, pain. 

The jaw, oddly enough, may not be as effective a target for the 
stick as it is for the fist. A stick blow here is likely to split the 
skin requiring several stitches, may fracture the lower mandible, 
and may damage the teeth (that dental work gets expensive in 
civil court proceedings!). Also, while a left hook to the "button" 
may snap the man's head sideways far enough and sharp enough 
to cause the brain to spin in its fluids, disrupting blood supply 
and causing instant unconsciousness, this classic KO blow may 

Practical Applications and Considerations 151 

not work as well if delivered by stick instead of knuckles. This 
is because the stick tends to give slightly, whether of its own con- 
struction or at the officer's wrist, while the boxer's fist has a solid 
forearm behind it to drive it all the way through its arc. The 
stick-hit suspect may be stunned, but not necessarily knocked out 
unless struck with great force, and there is likely to be substantial 
damage to the flesh and bone of the face. 

Blows over the kidneys and liver have a shocking, nauseating 
effect on the system, but these sensitive organs are quite vulner- 
able to trauma, and a stick blow here can cause internal hemor- 
rhage and possible death. 

The spine should be avoided, since the vertebrae can very easily 
be broken or separated by the deep, focused impact of a two- 
handed baton jab. Such injuries tend to be serious and perma- 
nent, and move the officer's actions into the lethal force area. 

The kneecap (patella) is a favorite target of police baton in- 
structors. It is possibly the most effective non-lethal blow that will 
freeze or drop a belligerent suspect in his tracks. Pain and local 
shock effect are enormous, and the injured leg is likely to give 
under the suspect's weight. Arthur Lamb has stated that a blow 
to the kneecap, when delivered with a wooden baton, is unlikely 
to break the patella; painful bone bruising, he says, is the usual 
result. He has doctors' testimony in his training film to back up 
his assertion. 

It is possible, however, that a strong blow, especially with a 
heavy plastic baton, will fracture the kneecap, and this is likely 
to be a compound fracture, with the bone shattered into several 
pieces. The result is permanent incapacity of varying degrees and 
usually a series of surgical procedures that might tend to support 
a victim /offender's claim of excessive force. 

The manufacturers of the potent Prosecutor recommend that 
blows be delivered to the sides of the knees, which will create 
two effects comforting to the officer: the legs tend to fold out 
from under the suspect quicker, and the likelihood of a frac- 
tured patella is greatly reduced. 

Any martial artist knows that a flexed joint can take a great 
impact without breaking, while a locked joint that can't roll with 


Modern Police Impact Weapons 

Figure 59. Straight stick is sometimes effective when swung as a baseball bat. 
Here, officer is down; he has leverage to make this a powerful blow, and be- 
cause he's coming in low, suspect can't see him telegraph the strike in time to 
evade it. Power thus delivered is awesome. 

the blow is easily snapped. First aid instructors and karate teach- 
ers are fond of stating that forty pounds of pressure is required 
to fracture or dislocate the kneecap. 

The officer cannot, obviously, take the time in every pressure 
situation to make sure that the suspect's knee is flexed. However, 
even if a broken kneecap does result, the fact that the majority 
of American police instructors recommend the kneecap blow will 
be at least a moderately effective defense in court, especially if 
medical testimony, such as that in the Lamb training film, is in- 

Perhaps the ideal target in the lower leg is the upper knob of 
the tibia, or shinbone, located just below the kneecap. Here many 
of the same nerve endings are present, and there is only a thin 

Practical Applications and Considerations 153 

layer of skin to protect the pain-sensitive bone; a blow in this lo- 
cation will have much the same effect as one on the kneecap, but 
since this is the thickest part of the bone, even if it does break, 
it is more likely to crack in a simple fracture from which the 
victim/ offender can recover uneventfully with no permanent 
aftereffects. I consider the upper knob of the shin the target of 
choice in a police baton attack to the suspect's lower extremities. 

The ankle is a seldom-considered target that can be hit with 
great effect. Pain and shock and immobilization effect are great, 
and the likelihood of really splintering the bone is relatively 
small. Hard to hit from an officer's upright position, the ankle is 
the target of choice (a) when the suspect is on a staircase or 
otherwise standing well above the officer; (b) when the officer is 
trying to incapacitate a brawler flailing on the ground; or (c) if 
an agile officer bends low in the movement fencers and knife 
fighters call passata sotlo. Executed swiftly, this technique allows 
the officer to slip under the fist-reach of his opponent. 

The groin is a highly debated target among baton instructors. 
Lamb feels that a hard blow here can cause permanent sexual 
crippling, something the average belligerent suspect hasn't 
earned; Kubota, on the other hand, has mentioned several groin 
attacks with the baton, as does Anderson with the Prosecutor. 

Both are right. A full-powered sweep to the groin cannot only 
cause permanent impairment of sexual function, but may even 
cause death due to traumatic shock and internal hemorrhage. On 
the other hand, a "weak" Kubota underhand flip probably won't 
hit hard enough to actually crush tissue, but the sensitivity of the 
testicles will translate that otherwise mild blow into a temporarily 
stunning impact. The vertical spin with the Prosecutor falls in 
between, and the extreme momentum of the nunchaku is likely 
to cause permanent injury when the officer hits the suspect be- 
tween the legs. 

The diaphragm (solar plexus) is quite vulnerable to baton 
jabs. A blow here can be fatal if delivered with great force, i.e. 
with the short end of a Prosecutor or in a powerfully executed 
Kubota two-hand technique. The reason the latter has been per- 
formed on suspects countless times with few or no fatalities is 

154 Modern Polite Impact Weapons 

that the officer usually delivers the blow to someone attacking 
him from behind; he is off-balance, and cannot put the full 
power of his body into the blow. A truly powerful blow to the 
diaphragm, especially if delivered on an upward angle which will 
violently compress air inside the chest wall, can rupture dia- 
phragm or even heart, causing death. 

The ribcage is generally a poor target for the police stick. Pain 
and shortness of breath will be the result, but not the shock or 
immobilization that the officer needs. Side effects include bone 
shards being forced into lung or liver or spleen, internal injuries 
that may not show up once the suspect has been forcibly sub- 
dued. Such a victim, like the one who has been "choked out," is 
a candidate for not waking up in his cell the next morning. 

The abdomen is an excellent target for baton thrusts. Specifi- 
cally, a well-focused blow with Prosecutor or two-handed straight 
baton that is delivered about an inch above the navel will "pene- 
trate" the toughest layers of belly muscles, causing acute cramp- 
ing pain that tends to fold the suspect over helplessly. Since the 
heavy muscles of the abdominal wall are so naturally protective, 
the likelihood of internal hemorrhagic in the intestinal region is 
small. One should, however, be extremely careful of low blows, 
which cannot only cause groin injuries with a focused jab, but 
may rupture the bladder if delivered an inch or two below the 

Blows to the wrist, like those to the elbows, cause great and 
intimidating pain. Somewhat more fragile, the wrist is still not 
terribly likely to break since it swings on the end of a loose limb. 
However, an officer who strikes to a subject's hand may break 
metacarpal (hand) bones, knuckles, or wrist (usually at the top 
of the forearm, or radius, just above the wrist) if the suspect is 
swinging at the officer and meeting the stick with his own momen- 
tum, or if the lower arm is held rigid for some other reason. 

Blows to the bicep or tricep can sometimes numb the arm 
harmlessly with cramping muscle spasms; strikes to the back of 
the thigh or the calf can sometimes do the same to the leg. Much 
of this response, however, will depend on the suspect's muscle 
tone, position, and degree of intoxication and pain threshold; 

Practical Applications mid Considerations 155 

while frequently effective, these targets are not 100 percent re- 
liable even with very sharp blows. 

If the preceding makes it sound like there are more places you 
shouldn't hit than you should, well, that's the way it is. Hitting 
a person with a hard and heavy stick tends to injure the organs 
and bones of his body. Some areas, such as the collarbone, or 
clavicle, are safe to break with little fear of permanent crip- 
pling. Others, like the "crazy bone," central abdomen, or the 
knob of the shinbone, may be battered with relative impunity. 
But the head, spine, and throat can easily give way fatally to the 
blow of a police impact weapon, and strikes to the rib cage, kid- 
neys, testicles, or diaphragm may cause permanent, serious dam- 
age if delivered with substantial force. 

Telling a policeman he can hit a man in a certain place and 
not worry about the aftereffects is like a television cop-show 
scriptwriter telling the actors that they can "shoot" the bad guy 
in the leg and he'll get better. Real cops know that a suspect shot 
in the leg may lose the limb, or walk gimpy for life, or die in a 
couple of minutes from hemorrhage if the femoral artery is 

The human anatomy is too complex to make 100 percent safe 
judgments about hitting people. Most people who have been 
whacked over the head with police billies have recovered with no 
aftereffects, but enough have died or suffered brain damage that 
today's police academies make the head a forbidden target for 
the police club. Similar policies will eventually follow as far as 
striking suspects in certain other parts of the body, though the 
danger may be of a lesser degree. 

Chapter VI 


History is not relevant to this text. Suffice to say that impact 
weapons were among the first self-defense tools of Ameri- 
can police, dating back to the European-style truncheons of the 
night watches. (The very first police weapons were muskets in the 
hands of Pilgrims on sentry duty.) Since then, while some form 
of striking implement has always been a standard item of police 
equipment, it has only been in the past twenty or thirty years that 
serious, expert thought and training have been given to the law- 
man's use of an impact weapon. In the patrol context, impact 
weapons techniques do not go back beyond Charles Gruzanski 
and others who brought their WWII-learned martial arts stick- 
fighting principles to the United States police service. 

The function of the impact weapon has never been defined. 
When, in Tombstone in the 1880s, Wyatt Earp used his Colt .45 
to "buffalo" recalcitrant drunks, the locals probably thought he 
was being charitable in pistol-whipping them instead of shooting 
them. An officer who did the same today would be pilloried on a 
spotlighted post of public opinion and professional disdain. 
When the police stick is drawn, the aftermath is often likely to 
be citizens crying "Brutality!" and cops moaning, "We're damned 
if we do, damned if we don't." The truth should be in the 

A California police chief once told me, "The stick is to be 
used in that grey area between asking a suspect to be nice, and 
shooting him." That too is a simplification, though not so drastic 
a one. Indeed, the scope of the impact weapon is such that there 
will be times when you'll want to put it in view (not necessarily 
brandish it) before you say a word. There may be other times 
when an innocent life is in deadly danger and you riare not fire 
your gun: You may have to employ your impact weapon with 
lethal or potentially lethal techniques. The latter will include 
potent blows to the temple or strikes to the back of the neck at 


Conclusion 157 

the seventh cervical vertebra ("just above the knob where your 
shonlderbones connect"), which can separate the vertebrae and 
cause the sharp bone ends to slice through the spinal cord. 

For the most part, of course, the impact weapon is designed 
for use against the violent but unarmed offender. The officer 
cannot, and should not, be required to stand toe to toe and duke 
it out with every hostile suspect, especially in light of the chang- 
ing shape of the police officer. Relaxation of physical entrance 
requirements for the police service are resulting in an increasing 
number of female officers and short-statured male patrolmen. 
Few if any police academies teach techniques that can effectively 
compensate for a hundred-pound weight differential between of- 
ficer and suspect. The same discrimination suits that have 
brought about the changing of physical size requirements have 
held up police recruitment in many communities and choked off 
the flow of new blood: There are several departments where the 
average age of the street patrolman is forty-plus. Such a man 
should not be expected to engage in punchouts with young ath- 
letes and construction workers. 

The impact weapon is an equalizer, but it has its limits. I know 
one policeman who held an angry crowd of 150 at bay with his 
stick, striking down nine boldly advancing individuals and send- 
ing them to the hospital; it took him ten minutes to cover the 
twenty yards between the sidewalk and his vehicle. He was very 
skillful, and very brave . . . and very fortunate to escape with his 
life. The average officer confronted with such odds would be a 
fool not to surrender his misdemeanor suspect and retreat. 

The average officer will be drawing his stick on one or two peo- 
ple he isn't sure he can take with his hands. As we have seen, 
bravery can turn to martyrdom for the patrolman and his 
brother officers when he gets too deep into a situation where he 
can wind up unconscious with his service revolver in the hands 
of an inflamed drunk or psycho. 

As we've said, and will say again, and can't say often enough, 
no nationwide standards have yet been established for police use 
of the impact weapon. Each officer in each community must de- 
termine his own parameters, a guideline that lies between the 

1 58 Modern Police Impact Weapons 

statutes, the mood of the courts, the policy of the department, 
and the current interpretation of Warren on Homicide. Less- 
lethal force will always be a grey area, but police departments 
and weapons instructors can go a long way toward defining some 
of the grey areas on the books from which the ultimate judg- 
ment of the individual officer will be drawn.